Becoming a better artist isn’t rocket science, brain surgery, nor does it require “talent”. The answer is simple, but you might not like it. Nicolaides’ “The Natural way to draw” has been on my shelf, and many other artist’s shelves for many years. Upon returning to school to get my art degree, I discovered that he had another title that was discontinued (I don’t recall it now). Our drawing instructor uses this to teach the drawing course, or at least the introduction. This was a gem on my shelf that I never full appreciated. The course in the classroom with assignments was the motivator I needed to do the work.
Do you SEE?
Most of the course focuses on “seeing”. It’s the essential element that we all miss and forget about regularly. Once you are there, then you can work on improving. There’s an old saying in the art world that goes,
Draw what you see, not what you know.
when you look at rustic folk art why do the houses and people look funny? Why can you see the front and the side of a house flat in one drawing? Why do bottles have a perfect circle on top of them? Because the artist wasn’t “Seeing” the subject. We know a bottle has a round hole at the top of the neck, but it shouldn’t be drawn that way when viewed from the side or any angle other than directly over its top.
“If you do something for 10,000 hours you will become a master.” A common phrase. What is left out is that you must do your thing for 10,000 hours with purposeful study to improve. You can do the same terrible thing for 10,000 hours and find you only managed to do a terrible thing, more terribly. Nicolaides studies focus on SEEING and drawing what you see. First with blind and open contour drawing, then gesture, then representational, then experimenting with medium.
How Do I become a better artist right now?
The only way to become a better artist is to work, study, and practice the craft. The art of seeing, getting out of your comfort zone and doing the work is essential. Do a couple blind contour drawings, an open contour drawing, a few gesture drawings DAILY. Every day, consider the results critically and seek ways to improve, seek ways to SEE and translate that to the paper or canvas. Get your hand to behave and recreate what your eyes see. That’s it, it’s that simple. Do the work. Art isn’t a supernatural gift, it’s a skill that must be maintained, honed, and practiced.
Watching 1,000 hours of youtube videos won’t make you a better artist unless you practice new skills for 1,000 hours as well.
Do it with discipline
You can’t just latch onto doing a few drawings a day for a week or two, or even four and expect to see sweeping improvement. Drawing, painting, doing your craft, should be a daily ritual that happens as routinely as brushing your teeth, taking a shower, or waking up. Once you have filled a couple of sketchbooks with purposeful study, you will know that you have improved. Don’t just doodle mindless crap. Take the time to read through Nicolaides study guidelines and DO the suggestions. Start right now, and you will grow quickly.