Practice, Practice, Practice!

Contributed by Neleisha Weerasinghe.

Practice, Practice, Practice; Why it is so important for Artists.

We are all skilled at different things in varying degrees. Some are born with incredible talent some acquire skills overtime, sometimes it’s a combination of the two. Whatever it may be, one thing to remember is that talent or skill, will be useless if you do not practice or keep learning.

This is a golden rule for the artist, no matter how advanced you may be in your career or trade. However oftentimes we do not seem to think we require a dedicated practice session that keeps us on our toes. Dancers, musicians, singers all practice on a daily basis. Then why do artists/painters (the new to the field mostly) oftentimes ignore this core discipline? My guess is that one can get carried away with getting that artwork done,  making a sale or two or may be the many other things in life take over.

How to practice
Now we know practice is essential, but how do we get about doing it? The act of practicing a new skill or honing a talent needs to be done in a focused manner. Because without a goal in mind or a focused approach, you might be practicing incorrectly and wasting your time without really learning anything substantial. So, do not be random but focus on what you want to improve on: it might be on composition, colour theory or simply brushing up on drawing or going back to the basics. So, here are some suggestions to get practicing.
1. Look at your work objectively and determine what you need to improve on.
2. Look at ways to improve this particular area. You might want to take an online class, speak to a mentor or simply focus on it in a DIY manner.
3. Dedicate time to focus on this singular area on a regular basis.
4. Make time to practice outside of your normal creative pursuits.
5. Set reminders if that helps.

You may think this daily practice is not practical to achieve regularly but if you set time slots it can work. With experience I know this does not work especially if you have family to take care of and other work to do so in this case setting shorter targets work for me. For e.g. do about 15 minutes sketching focused on composition only either when you wake up or before bed at night. The important thing is to begin and keep at it on a regular basis. Before you know it, you will have an enjoyable practice going that becomes second nature.

Another important thing for artists is drawing on a regular basis. Most often you might push this back focusing only on painting as this is exciting but remember that drawing is the most basic skill you need to master no matter which creative field you are in. It is a way to see things better and translate your ideas on to a physical plane. It is also a great cost-effective way to keep practicing. So keep a small sketch or note book, pen and/ or pencils at hand to sketch, doodle or draw. With a persistent approach you will be surprised at how your work improves and you will be much happier for it.