Practice Makes…Progress

We’ve all heard the advice: Draw or paint daily. It’s good advice for any artist, any time, and for struggling new artists like me, it’s the best advice we’ll ever get. But no matter how good the advice may be, it’s only going to be helpful if we follow it.

I usually do some drawing or painting every day — with weekends excepted — but then there are those times when I get frustrated, discouraged, or simply too busy to spend much time at my easel. Just getting started can be a challenge at times, especially if I’m a bit rushed, or if I’m not quite in the mood.

What I’m learning, though, is that the less I want to paint, the more important it is for me to get to my easel and get to work. If I want to get better, I need to practice, and the more mornings I spend at my easel, the more apt I am to improve.

During those times when painting is hard, I try to have fun with it as much as possible. I play mad scientist and do crazy things with my paints. I push myself so far from my comfort zones that I’m happy just to survive. I do little practice pieces. In as many ways as possible, I try to take away any pressure I might feel.

It works. Without even trying, I find myself discovering new, or better, ways of doing things. I begin to regain a bit of confidence in myself, and sometimes then I can go back to a painting that didn’t come out quite like I wanted, or a painting that’s been sitting unfinished for a while.

As I’ve been working my way through lots of ups and downs with my oil painting, I’ve been going back and fixing up a few paintings. I’m still not fully satisfied with this one, but I think my mornings of practice have led to a bit of progress. Here is the current version of Autumn Lake:

Autumn Lake Framed

I finally got my rocky bank on the left to look like I wanted, and I finished the right side of the painting. And, oh, my goodness! Do you see the tree trunks on the left? Yes, I painted those gorgeous trunks. Forget the ones on the right. They’re still clunky and chunky, but at this point I don’t care. I am in love with those other ones. I played around, tried different brushes, different consistencies of paint, different techniques. And I found what works for me.

Meanwhile, I’ve lost most of the reflections in the lake, so maybe the next time I work on this I can re-do that area. Until then, I’m happy to see improvements in the painting.

Art is always an on-going process, and a lot of projects may be on-going, too. I intend to keep painting, and most of all to keep practicing, because I know that while practice won’t necessarily make me a perfect landscape painter, it will make me better. Practice really does lead to progress.

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About Judith

As an artist, author, and musician, I celebrate creativity and personal expression through all that I do. I invite you to join me as I explore many different aspects of life, love, beauty, and nature.

26 comments

  1. Liz

    I like your painting and I think the trunks are ok on the right. It gives me the impression they are in shadow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Liz. Learning to paint finer lines in oil has been one of my challenges, so I was very happy with my skinny tree trunks on the left. Of course, not all trees have skinny trunks. 🙂 I’m glad you like the painting.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Liz

        Since following your blog, which I find inspiring, it’s making me think should I get back more into my creative side of sketching. If I go the acrylic route, that would be new learning. Mostly when I was younger, it was pencil drawing, which some were coloured. I have done watercolour before, but still a beginner as not done much. I remember when I tried pastels for the first time. I loved it then, but we never had anymore lessons in it and I never thought to give it a go any further. I think I need to get back into my sketching first with some being in colour and go from there.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for your kind words, Liz. I’m happy you’ve found my thoughts and experiences inspiring. I think sketching is such a good thing to do. It’s one time when I can really relax with my art and just enjoy the moments I’m spending with my pencils and drawing paper. I love the feeling of making marks on the page, and it’s such a marvelous thing when I can step back a bit and see a completed picture. Drawing and sketching help me relax in ways that painting doesn’t. And it is fun, too, to play around with different media. I want to do more with soft pastels, and one day I really should get out my colored pencils again. There are so many things to explore in art!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Liz

        Yes, there is so many ways to explore art. I look forward to your future drawings and painted pictures.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. One of the things that I have learned that you not work on of your art when the time is not right and also if you are not in the right frame of mind to work. It has nothing to do with wanting to or not wanting to do the work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • For me, as a still-beginning artist, I’ve learned that I really need to practice as much as possible, but there are days when I don’t dare work on my “real”art projects. Instead, I grab one of my 5 x 7 canvases and just do a little practicing, maybe playing around with different brushstrokes, maybe exploring different blending techniques. Then, once I’m feeling a little better about my art, I can go back to other paintings and make a bit of progress.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The practice is showing Judith! Your composition guides me through the painting.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Really lovely to see how this continues !

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lifetime Chicago

    You don’t seem like a beginning artist…I am trying art and it is very difficult. The colors are perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. I’m still very much a beginner. I started learning to draw in June 2015, and began oil painting in November 2016. It’s a fun journey. Sometimes I seem to be making good progress, and at other times, it can be a bit frustrating. Overall, though, I am enjoying my art journey.

      Like

  6. Ann Mackay

    I love the idea of playing ‘mad scientist’ and the practice pieces sound like a very helpful idea……must try that!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Bonnie Cummings Haig

    Judith, I enjoy reading your daily blog. You are so much like me. You can put into words what I am experiencing. Thanks for writing about your painting experience! You are not alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Bonnie. That was my hope when I started this blog. Since I could barely draw at all, it seemed like a crazy thing to do, but I wanted to share my experiences and encourage others who were learning, too.

      Like

  8. I totally agree with you – practice really does pay off. Playing with colour and doing small practice pieces is always time well spent. I love your autumn landscape…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Judith..I am impressed by the energy and integrity with which you are exploring your art and writing about your process. What we do and who we are within the act of art fascinates me.
    For some reason I am unable to ‘Like’ but can still ‘Comment’.
    I wish you great joy and happy accidents on your painting journey. May it bring as much magic into your life as it has to mine.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for visiting and sharing your thoughts. Art is such a unique experience for each individual. I, too, am fascinated by the process of discovery within art. I am looking forward to reading posts on your blog, as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you for sharing your work in progress. Many of us are too focused on the end product but sharing as you go along is very inspirational.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: Just Another Autumn Painting | Artistcoveries

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