Practice, of course, makes perfect! But are there ways to skip that mystical ten-thousand-hours-to-be-a-master number that you may have heard quoted time and time again?
There’s a right way and a wrong way to practice and improve, and we’ll dive into that in this article and outline the best ways to improve at drawing, in the fastest ways possible.
Efficiency is something to aspire for many people, and faster improvement is one of the biggest ways to be efficient.
A lot of people struggle with drawing a specific kind of thing.
For some people it is faces, for others it is hands, and some people struggle with specific shapes or objects or animals.
One of the best ways to improve your general drawing of the human shape–especially if you’re a beginner–is with gesture drawing or gesture sketching.
The goal of this isn’t to capture every detail perfectly, because you’re not ready for that yet. Instead, try to get the general form as best as you possibly can, and as fast as you possibly can.
Capture a person’s stride as they walk or maybe the way someone crouches down and how their shoulder hunch as they reach for an item beneath something.
Capture the way their body moves or how their exact posture looks at that exact moment.
You’ll be surprised at how fast you’re soon able to get a better grip on how to approach a lot of different kinds of objects or situations once you practice gesture drawing.
It lets you more accurately (and quickly) capture any particular situation or appearance without committing hours to get every detail perfect.
You can work on the smaller details once you get the shape and form down better.
Along with gesture drawing, speed sketching is another important tool in the box of a learning artist.
This lets you really reveal some of the inaccuracies in your skill, and the biggest mistakes you make when trying to draw something, especially in the initial stages where you might make a composition mistake but not realize it until later.
It’s too late at that point because you’ve done a ton of work and it’s a waste of time to erase thirty minutes’ worth of detail. Instead, spend a minute or two very roughly sketching something out.
Don’t bother with focusing on a single thing, either, like gesture drawing. Instead, very quickly sketch out a whole scene. You might see a man sitting in a park with his dog on a bench.
With gesture drawing, you might only focus on the man, or if you were trying to draw the entire thing with heavy detail you’d spend hours on every little thing. Draw the man, the dog, the bench, the tree behind him, the grass and skyline, everything–in just thirty or sixty seconds.
It sounds impossible, right?
But you’ll see, just like with gesture drawing, that after a few times you start to understand the most important essentials of any shape or a specific image.
You can narrow and break something down into the absolute core of what it is, and then add in all of the other important details after that.
Practicing this should result in heavy improvements in terms of your ability to understand landscapes and immediately get a better grasp of how you should depict something.
Combining this with gesture drawing should help you in terms of getting a better grasp over your initial efforts when beginning a piece.
Taking a Class
If you’re really serious about improving, of course, the smartest thing you could do is seek out a tutor, take classes, enter your art in competitions, and so on.
Taking a class is a particular way to improve. It might seem scary, even, or something that you don’t need, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The more you expose yourself to harder challenges, the faster you’ll improve.
That doesn’t even account for the fact that the teacher should help you correct your weaknesses and mistakes. It will help you iron out the biggest issues with your art faster, and let you focus on improving and perfecting your technique.
Formal learning can help with almost any kind of practice or discipline. There are very few forms of art–or any kind of action or practice, really–that are totally self-sufficient and never involve anyone else.
The best artists probably failed the most and spent the most time perfecting their craft before you even began to see their best work.
There’s no reason for this not to extend to you, or even to other walks of life–writing, athleticism, sports, painting, anything, really. Having a teacher to guide you can be invaluable and is probably one of the biggest keys to improving very fast.
Constant Practice, All The Time
You probably knew this one was coming, but it really is true.
If you want to get better–and if you want to get better fast– then you need to practice, constantly, all the time.
You can’t expect to get better at a rapid rate if you aren’t constantly engaging in the activity.
Humans learn in a certain pattern–performance, feedback, revision. The only way you learn is by failing and getting better. Otherwise, you’ll improve very slowly or stagnate and you may become frustrated and quit entirely.
Don’t do that.
There’s probably a great artist inside of you, but it’s going to take a lot of work and time to make it really come out.
Set aside a certain amount of time every day, or week, and practice. It might be an hour every day, or two, or more, or less. Consistency is more important than the amount of time, though the time itself is still important.
Practicing for five minutes every day, for example, is probably not enough to earn you fast progress. An hour a day or more for months, though, would probably result in something a lot more drastic.
Expose yourself to different art styles. Read books. Go to art museums. These are all kinds of things that you can add to your practice, or make part of your practice, that will also help you.
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Whether it’s taking a class, specific techniques like gesture drawing or speed sketching, or just practicing all of the time, getting better at drawing is going to require a strong, consistent effort from you.
If you’re serious about it, set aside the time, and go out of your way to make it happen, you can improve far faster than you might think.
Get started drawing now 🙂