When you’re learning a brand-new art form, progress can be slow. There’s no secret to instant proficiency at what you’re doing; practice is the only way. This can be problematic because practice often discourages us. If we’re practicing alone with only tutorials to give us instruction, the urge to quit is strong.
I don’t know if I can call myself a “month-old” artist anymore. I started painting sometime in December and it’s almost February. Also, I’ve been sketching on and off for many years; if we’re using the term artist broadly, I haven’t been a “month-old” artist for a long time.
Let’s go for “month-old painter.”
During these two months of sketching and painting, I learned many things. I shared them with you in this post and this one. Here are some more nuggets of wisdom from a “two-month old painter.” I hope they’re of value.
1- You Are Not The Tutorial
This was a big one for me. Those tutorials on Youtube and Pinterest have helped me grow as an artist, but they also caused me to fall into the comparison trap. I was disappointed when the rose I painted looked nothing like the one in the tutorial, forgetting that the person in the video had been painting for much longer than I.
The simplest things look amazing when painted by practiced hands. Whatever it is you’re trying to learn, remember you are not going to get results like those in the tutorial yet. That will require time.
2- Learn To Mix Colors
I mentioned in a previous post that I accidentally mixed the perfect gray to use for a cloudy sky. I couldn’t figure out what I had done right, so I did my research and kept practicing.
If you’re going into painting, spend some time researching color combinations that result in the shade you need. I want to memorize mixes so I won’t need to constantly hit Google for help.
Get a big plate to play on and start mixing. Water down what you have mixed, because water does change the color. See how it looks on paper. Repeat. This will give you the confidence to color your painting to life.
3- You Are Your Worst Critic
I scroll through groups of watercolorists and see posts by people bemoaning how awful their work is—but most of the time, their painting blows me away! It might be a silhouette of a building or the whisper of a flower.
Perhaps they’re aiming for realism, but I want to tell them I wish I could do that. It’s natural to want improvement at all phases of your journey, but remember: you are your worst critic. Whatever you painted isn’t as bad as you think it is. I always need to remind myself of that.
By the end of February, will I be able to paint more birds? Will I understand how to paint houses that don’t look like a child did them? Maybe—if I practice.
I’m glad I took up this challenge; it is making the year so much more interesting.
I hope January has treated you well. Don’t be afraid to set goals for February and learn new things; this is what keeps life interesting!