“Improve your drawings by 1% everyday”
Like an athlete who trains for competition, artists need to flex their creative muscles daily. The idea that an artist can sit around till inspiration strikes is a myth. To get better at drawing, you must draw. Here’s my advice: focus on improving your drawings by 1% every day. It doesn’t sound like much, it adds up.
The owl drawings at the top are a good example. They are separated by about 13 years. The Great Horned Owl was drawn from an injured bird living at the Mountsberg Raptor Centre. Back in 2003, I thought this was a swell little drawing, but knew that there was plenty of room for improvement. Today’s Owl is the result years of effort trying to get better. 1% every day.
Here are my 2 suggestions:
1. Carry a pocket sketchbook on your daily commute. I love subways and all the interesting characters packed onto the train...each person lost in their own thoughts. The lonely crowd. Most folks are too busy texting on their phones to notice if you candidly sketch them. Van Gogh used to discretely sketch people while sitting in church. Your sketches will look ghastly at first, but give it some time and don’t be too hard on yourself.
If you don’t commute to work (or have an aversion to sketching strangers) try drawing your hands. It’s harder than most people think. If you’re able to keep at it daily for a year, you’ll be much improved and have the confidence to tackle anything. I’d also make time to sketch any family pets.
2. Study the past. On days when you don’t feel like drawing, put down your pencil and pick up some art books instead. Or plan a trip to a gallery and immerse yourself with great drawings from the past. You never want to blatantly copy the artwork of others, but instead, be inspired and mix it with your unique vision to produce something fresh and original.
There’s no road map to making great drawings, so focus on putting in the effort to improve a little bit each day. Have fun on your journey!