art lessons.

Beginner artists: gripe about perfectionism via unfinished art on Instagram.  (@t.spellen)

Beginner artists: gripe about perfectionism via unfinished art on Instagram. (@t.spellen)

I’ve been practicing my sketches through helpful art channels on YouTube. It’s fun to learn from such talented artists, and many of them have great advice for beginners. There are so many things one can do to improve…but essentially, the difference between a starting artist and a skilled one is mindset. Coincidentally, the mindset an artist needs to grow in their craft is crucial for realizing our goals in any area of life.

Let’s compare some differences between beginners and experienced artists:

Beginner artists…

  • try to nail every detail perfectly and often spend an hour or more on their first draft alone

  • insist on clean lines and uniformity, which often results in a stiff, lifeless drawing.

  • trace and copy to replicate the style of their favorite artist.

  • stick to what they know and show little variation between drawings.

  • grow frustrated when they don’t see their art improve dramatically or overnight.

Experienced artists…

  • draw their first sketch lightly, quickly, and fluidly. They prioritize getting their ideas out on paper over [making] everything perfect. Experienced artists don’t waste time obsessing over the first sketch—instead, they improve as they go.

  • accept messy lines as the foundation of an sketch. They erase minimally and use minor mistakes as guidelines instead.

  • take on subjects and techniques outside of their comfort zone to grow as an artist.

  • dedicate time to drawing every day so that their art will slowly by inevitably improve. They understand that “practice makes progress.”

  • establish a “signature style.” Unless their niche is realism, experienced artists usually have stylistic preferences that distinguish their art from others. These elements are derived from (but not limited to) a) the works of other artists and b) discoveries they’ve made in their own art over time.

So students, what have we learned? :-)

My biggest takeaway: growth means embracing the journey. Growth of any kind means we have to stop seeking instant perfection and start valuing progress. Growth means learning from our mistakes and the messy parts of who we are. It requires commitment and investing a little bit towards our goals every day, and trusting the process no matter how long it takes. To be clear, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with most of the beginner steps, like feeling good in your comfort zone or occasionally feeling frustrated with art itself. But eventually, our growth requires us to try new things and take risks. If nothing else, the blossoming artist reminds us to stay inspired, and to have fun discovering our unique style or impact.

Isn’t it great when life imitates art?