10 Tips on learning how to paint

female art student painting

Melina DiMarco practices painting in our Light, Color and Design Class at Pratt.

This list is not complete and it can continue to develop with the basic ideas in each paragraph. I came across the list on a Russian website. I have tried to clean up the initial google translation a little. The original list was posted by Yefim Repin. I personally really like the suggestions, so I hope this will also help others.

1. Sketch
2. Copies of Old Masters
3. Draw from memory
4. Study and consult with the nature.
5. Read the professional literature
6. Look for a mentor
7. Repeat mistakes
8. Do not draw from photos
9. Take breaks
10. Engaged in creative work

1. Sketch
The first and most important point. Do at least 5-6 sketches per day. This rule works like this: the more the better. Use every opportunity to paint at home, at work, on the road. It develops a “hand”, the sharpness and speed of perception, the ability to see the proportions and character. It is useful to draw storyboards for the film, comics as step by step. They have to control the movement of the characters, watching their recognizability.

2. Copies of Old Masters
Surrounded yourself with role models, develop a taste. Make a copy every 3 months. It should be solid with good originals. Study of the great masters (Michelangelo, Rubens, Holbein, Dürer, Repin, Serov, Feshin and others). Try to maximize how you can get closer to the source, studying not only the techniques of the master, but his biography, the material culture of the time.

3. Draw from memory
Even when working from nature, we work from memory. During a lengthy lectures draw sketches from memory, examining details, draws at home. By developing visual memory, you will not only become good at drawing but your drawings will also become more convincing.

4. Study and consult with the nature.
Explore nature at least 2 hours per day under the guidance of an experienced mentor. Principle: from simple to complex. For the fruitful development of professional skills it is necessary to have an individual plan of study or to follow the prescribed curriculum. Work in the studio, combine it with a picnic. Get outside. Trust your instincts and always compare theory with practice.

5. Read the professional literature
All you need to know, has long been written – do not reinvent the wheel. Read a book every month. Technique and technology of materials, art history, anatomy, cromatics, tracts of old masters, artists’ biographies, the physics of natural phenomena, the basis of perception, psychology, philosophy – read everything connected with the profession of an artist. Today, the Internet provides a global opportunity to get almost any material. But you can not trust everyone.

6. Look for a mentor
Constantly look for a mentor, according to their professional growth. You have to completely trust his knowledge, experience and his creative activity should call the universal respect. Often, good artists can not be mentors. They are just not cut out for teaching. On the other hand, the teachers often perform supervisory functions, and have not practiced the art. Their truth are without this skill and craftsmanship. Sometimes, only one meeting with a true master can change your whole future.

7. Repeat mistakes
Usually, people are encountering the first obstacle – abandon the job. They are afraid of repeating mistakes. It did not work – start a new one! Do not be afraid to make mistakes – take a look at them closely. Perhaps it “speaks” your identity. Turn their disadvantages into advantages.

8. Do not draw from photos
The temptation to simplify the work from nature can have irreversible consequences. Amateur painter, not realizing the intricacies of identifying shapes, wittingly or unwittingly falls in relation to view the world through the lens. He feels that this will bring it to nature. Believe me – it’s not the case. The camera can not replace the work your heart and mind to transfer the reality on the plane. And especially do not revise it creatively, which is particularly valuable. Only mustered sufficient experience and becoming a master can be used to collect material fotoappart and fixation point.

9. Take breaks
Do not get hung up on one and the same – to know how to switch. If it doesn’t work, take a break. Go for a walk. Start a fundamentally different picture, change the point of view, change the equipment, try new stuff. It is useful to have several simultaneous works with different tasks, using a new technique. Sometimes you just need to step back to look at ourselves.

10. Engaged in creative work
Put it in front of a big goal. We must always remember why you decided to learn. Do not shelve plans for their artistic and creative ideas. Begin to implement them right now. Take part in exhibitions, competitions, regardless of the level of training and distance. Be an artist!

Summary
There are many ways to identify weaknesses in their work. The main remedy, I think, is creative activity. Taste and other skills can be developed if there is a potential energy. Perhaps this is the talent, without which any regulations powerless.

– Yefim Repin

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Model: Melina DiMarco

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Kiri Østergaard Leonard
kiri@kirileonard.com

Award winning Illustrator, Artist and Creator Kiri Østergaard Leonard happily shares her experiences making a living as an artist and pursuing a creative life. She grew up in a tiny village in Denmark, left her country behind to pursue art in the bustle of New York City and now resides in the delightful weirdness of Austin, Texas surrounded by sunshine and felines.

2 Comments

  • Kiri Østergaard Leonard

    17.01.2014 at 16:08 Reply

    Very good points, Oliver. Photo reference is always tricky, it's almost a mastery in itself to learn how to use it – Norman Rockwell did an amazing job at that. I do think you have the right of it when you say to question the image.

  • Oliver Wetter

    17.01.2014 at 09:18 Reply

    Thanks for the write-up and translation, most of them are really good advice. However, I´d be careful with point 2 and 8 as they are both two sides of one coin: perception.
    Mastercopies are good to get a skillset on brushes, texture, color etc however, it is limited by the original artists perception – a thing that can not be copied. The other side is photography that can also not grasp the reality, simply becasue it sees life through one lens -mono, not stereo. When doing drawing from photography I believe it is important to question the image and don´t take it as is. People who highly depend on photographic references suffer from being too much a slave of the reference. May it be limited self esteem or a certain unability to see things that are not there. However you see it, it is vital to carefully question both sides of this very coin.

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