We all know that perfection does not exist in art. It especially doesn’t exist anywhere in my art, to be sure. So while the old saying may tell us that “Practice makes perfect”, as artists we know that it’s simply not true.
Practice does, however, lead to progress, and after five years of learning, studying, and patiently practicing perspective, I’m almost starting to feel that I really am making at least a little progress. I know this because I didn’t groan quite as much as usual when I opened William Powell’s Landscapes book this morning and turned to a page on Perspective Tips. I still had my misgivings, yes, but I know perspective is important, so I might as well stop fussing and get on with it.
While my perspective drawings aren’t great, I think they’re a lot better than they used to be. This page from my landscape drawing sketchbook definitely shows a little improvement. My buildings are still wonky, and they probably always will be, but it’s nice to see progress.
I’m especially pleased with the sketch in the lower right corner of the page. I’ve read this book before, and I’ve drawn all these sketches in the past. I remember this one very well. I drew it not in a sketchbook but on a canvas panel. I then attempted to paint it in oil.
It was not a successful painting. The tower beside the church was so awful that I ended up painting over it. First, though, I turned it into a gate, but that didn’t work either, so I took it out. Finally I turned the church itself into a barn — of sorts. All in all, I painted and re-painted the scene several times. Here’s what I finally ended up with:
The colors were a splotchy mess, the whole painting was cluttered and confused, but at least I’d managed to draw and paint a building. At the time, that was quite an accomplishment for me.
As for today’s sketching practice, here’s the churchyard scene enlarged a bit.
It doesn’t look like much, I know. But it’s all there. The church. The tower. The trees. The hillside. It’s only a quick — very quick — sketch, and yes, I know the perspective on the tower still isn’t quite right. But this little thumbnail sketch represents lots of practice, and lots of progress. I can see that progress even if no one else can, and I’m pleased by it.
Maybe one day soon I’ll even take out another of my canvas panels and try drawing and painting this scene again. I think I can probably do a lot better than I did two years ago… and that’s progress!