3 More Tips From a (Month-Old) Artist

Some incidents can instantly ruin your day. A spilled cup of coffee? Horrible accident. The tip of the pencil broke off while you were using it? An inconvenience, for sure. Need to fetch clean water to dip your brush in? I’m so lazy.

Accidents and inconveniences happen in all aspects of life. What matters is how you react and what you learn from them. It’s been a week since I posted my three tips for new artists; I have since learned more.

I can’t give up watercolor. In the past when I tried this medium, I didn’t understand the magic. I didn’t realize watercolor was not the same as acrylic; I was using the colors incorrectly and getting the wrong results. Now that the Internet has shown me useful tutorials, I have been able to love the watercolor palette.

just a little chat by me

Here are some bits of advice to follow, even if you do not watercolor. If you’re taking up a new hobby, some useful things to keep in mind are:

1- Embrace the Accidents

There are accidents that we can call convenient.

For example, I was painting a page of red birds to learn control of brush and color. Accidentally I mixed this perfect, cloudy-day gray. It’s the gray you’re supposed to get by combining Burnt Sienna and Cadnium Blue, then adding a lot of water, but when I tried doing this last week I could not get this gray. I’ll keep practicing until I am able to access this shade when I need it.

Embrace the accidents—they are kindling to keep you on the learning path.

2- Time, Time, Time!

I learn a lot more by spending an hour at the table practicing mixes than I would by sitting down for five-minute sessions. That’s not to say the five-minute sessions won’t teach me anything—only that there are more productive ways to use our time.

I did not learn this from watercolor so much as I did from my piano lessons. I have made it a military habit to sit down for at least half an hour of practice, almost always at 4PM. Now I enjoy playing music for my family.

I know that when I’ve settled into a similar habit with painting, I’ll understand color better.

a fuzzy cardinal by me

3- Artists Sketch

I’ve noticed while reading comments on Facebook that a lot of beginners made the mistake of believing that all they needed were the paint sets and brushes.

The truth is, you’ve got to know how to sketch the bones of your painting before you add the color—at least when you’re beginning—or the color will be all over the place. If you’re like me, painting without sketching could lead to a disaster that doesn’t look like anything–not even Picasso’s weird art.

I already knew how to sketch, but have since become determined to improve with the humble art of pencil-to-paper. I am learning cross-hatching, shading, and how to create animals using simple shapes. When I cannot paint, when there’s not enough space to lay out the palettes and ink, I grab my sketchbook and draw a flower during commercial breaks.

This applies to everything else in life. You need to know the sketch before you work on the project. Learn the rules before you break them!

So if you’re a baker, learn the recipe by heart before modifying it by replacing sugar with honey (which really works, I promise, and it’s tasty.) If you’re a writer, pay attention to the critique offered you, even if it hurts your pride. Become familiar with the bones of your project before you add the garnishes.


What do you think could be added to this list?

4 thoughts on “3 More Tips From a (Month-Old) Artist

  1. I love the three little birds! I would add when things go wrong it is an opportunity to do something differently. I think sometimes my ‘accidents’ end up being some of my best art work.

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