Become a Better Artist By Challenging Yourself.
How To Have a Break Through in Art
In the most recent MasterClass, Painting Water, artists that participated had breakthroughs with their perception on their art making abilities. Not only did the artists create pieces that were stunning (see below), they broke through the “I can’t do that” barrier that can be in front of an artist before starting something new. To give some background on this class, it was taught by Nikusha (hello, that is me), and it was on Mother’s Day. In this article, I’ll explain how you can become a better artist in a matter of hours.
The first step to painting in MasterClasses is by picking a photo, so that’s what everyone did. Some people grabbed their photos right away, and others lingered, looking at what else there was to offer. During this process, I heard a few people say “this is easy, so I’m going to do it.” Now, I’m [usually] not one to press my opinion on other people, especially while teaching, but when I heard someone was going to do something easy just because, I had to ask them why.
It’s Easy, and That’s Why You Should Pick Something Else.
The first person I talked to was Kathy, a student that has been coming to the studio for a little over two months. Kathy had a photo of a beautiful seashore with a boat docked on the sand; as amazing as it was, even Kathy knew she could challenge herself a bit more. The conversation went something like this: Me: “That image is too easy, what about something like this?” *Points to a turbulent sea with multiple boats going off into the distance* “Yeah, that’s nice but it’s too advanced. I can’t finish something like that in two hours.” “Yes, you can. Look at how much fun it will be.” “No I ca- Okay, let’s do this!” And with that, Kathy went to mapping the picture for advanced artists on her canvas.
After Kathy, another student named Sarah came up to me with a picture of a cliff side. The conversation went something like this: Sarah: “I want to paint water that has a reflection in it, but this cliff side is easier.” Me: “If you want to paint water with a subjects reflection in it, why not do it?” Art is all about indulging. “It’s too much for two hours.” “What’s the image you want to paint?” *Points at a photo of a yellow/orange building by a river, with the buildings reflection in the water.*
The photo she pointed to was a picture I’ve painted before, and it just so happens that when I painted it, I also thought it was too complex, I started painting late AND I was annoyed because I was late to class [AKA the perfect recipe for giving up on perfection]. It’s now one of my favorite paintings. I told Sarah this. “What’s the worst that could happen? All supplies are provided. If you like the image, just go for it. If all else, it’ll be a learning experience.” And with that, Sarah went to mapping the image she thought was too detailed on her canvas.
The big takeaway here is to go for projects you’re uncomfortable with. If you want to become a better artist, we will always encourage you to go for what you think is “too advanced”. And the best part is, you create an amazing painting you didn’t believe you could do!
No One Does That; That’s Why You Should Do It.
Kymee, a student that has recently started taking classes at the studio again, was drawing with charcoal on a dowel; the dowel is how artists map out their paintings. I was talking with Kymee and I brought up doing the sketching of the underpainting with paint, instead of charcoal. This technique adds color, but more importantly, you can’t erase the lines anymore! Mapping your painting with paint is the best way to be okay with a piece that isn’t “perfection”. Kymee chose to do her underpainting in blue, a great choice indeed.
This influenced another student, Esther, to paint her whole painting with the dowel! Esther actually did two paintings, and both were done with a dowel. The dowel is 3-4ft stick, and is the first step to creating an art piece – you use it to proportionally map your subject onto your canvas from a distance. Not only are you doing it from 2-3ft away from your painting, there’s not much control with a dowel; artists like to ditch it once their drawing is done so they can move on to painting. However, Esther decided to take the challenge on and do the whole thing with the dowel. Esther was dancing, and painting, and having an all around great time; I didn’t have to say much to her besides comments on how well her painting was turning out.
The other lesson the artists [and I] learned was to not be afraid of new techniques, to view challenges as a way of self improvement, and to do what others don’t dare to try. I am so glad I taught this class, as I learned a lot through the artists that painted; to see artists go through this transformation of doubt to confidence and happiness is an amazing experience.
If I leave you with any advice, let it be that you’ll never know how it’s going to turn out, so you might as well go for it.
Want to have experiences like these and become a better artist yourself? Sign up for the Prima Materia Workshop! It’s a monthly transformational event that is the prerequisite to MasterClasses.