how to draw a portrait

The importance of daily practice that develops your drawing skills: drawing tips

Drawing daily is essential to advancing artist’s skills. I used to struggle with the depiction of human form, drawing stick figures. Studying in state schools I struggled to receive the classical art education that’s available today in a number of atelier schools popping up throughout the country, which didn’t exist back in 2001. It took me many years to “learn” how to draw, studying here and there without the backbone of a complete system that is now offered by the Grand Central Academy of Art in New York. Over the years I learned several things that I’d like to share with you here.

Kat with a shell, detail, graphite on paper

What works:

  1. Drawing daily from life, even if it’s a small sketch that looks insignificant.
  2. Studying the great works of art. Yes, studying, not looking at. How does the artist solve a problem of the movement, composition, contrast, and color?
  3. Positive attitude and the acceptance of failure as part of the learning curve.
  4. Mentor’s help. (It’s worth your buck to pay a well-known, practicing artist to learn the tricks of the trade. Don’t expect those artists to guide you for free. There is a reason why they’re successful and their time and knowledge is valuable).
  5. Passion and the work ethic that drives you to work consistently.
  6. Having fun with the subject.
  7. Choosing the right place or school for you to study, if you wish to make a giant leap forward and become a professional. Follow your favorite artists and figure out where they studied or study with them. Some great art schools that give classical education are GCA, Studio Incamminati, Ani Art Academy, the Ryder Studio and many more!
  8. Drawing from plaster casts or classical sculptures at the museums. This is one of the cheapest and best ways to study the human anatomy before actually committing to drawing from a real person.
  9. Study the complex subjects separately. Draw one object at a time before combining them together.
  10. Sign up for free business newsletters /webinars written by practicing artists and crafters that will guide you how to set up and handle the art sales. Here are a couple of examples https://eshopmarketers.com and http://www.brilliantbusinessmoms.com/instagram-marketing-for-your-small-business
  11. Some good art books to have in your library: Anthony Ryder, “The artist’s complete guide to figure drawing,” J.D.Hillberry “Drawing realistic textures in pencil,” Jane Jones “Classic still life painting,” and you can also check out my art books that vary in subject and medium: http://veronicasart.com/art-instruction-books/
  12. Some good business books that are worth your time are by Jack White who is an amazing marketer and a practicing artist: http://www.jackwhiteartist.com/pages/books.htm. I also recommend “Making it in the art world” by Brainard Carey. He lists some unconventional strategies he employed to in his art career.
  13. Join groups on Facebook to keep yourself motivated and to receive quality feedback. (The Atelier Movement is one of the groups for oil painters, Colored pencil artist league is one of many colored pencil groups).

What doesn’t work:

  1. A fixed mindset where you believe that you can become great in a couple of lessons. There is no point in starting out on this venture, if you don’t have realistic expectations. It takes at least a year of consistent work to see permanent results.
  2. Inconsistency or a lack of work ethic.
  3. Trying to learn the material from someone whose artwork doesn’t represent your ideal image or a technique.
  4. The absence of motivation. No one will make you successful, unless you work on it!
how to draw a portrait
A study of Kat with a shell, 9×12″ graphite on paper

About this artwork

My art revolves around the beauty of the female form and the ocean. A combination of these subjects provides me with infinite inspiration. Although the idea for the image often comes to me during the photo shoot or long before, I largely rely on my final result – the photographs that captivate me with a sensual line, emotion, light and contrast. Therefore, the “right” model is essential to my artistic success. Usually good models are aware of themselves and know how they look from different angles. They also understand what facial expressions work, or what I want them to express.

The lighting on a model is also essential to my imagery. While the model creates the appearance, I create the atmosphere with the right lighting and the props. The Rembrandt lighting (high contrast, sharp edges) or the north light (low contrast, soft focus) by the window are the two great types of lighting that deliver consistent results.

I make studies before I proceed to painting. Whenever I skip this step, I fail. I end up working on a painting for a really long time with a mixed result. So this graphite drawing is my study for a future oil painting.

Hope this helps on your creative path.

Until then,

Veronica

art of donation

The art of donation: is it worth it?

 

Over the years I’ve donated close to two dozen pieces, including my donations to CSN (the Community School of Naples), State College high, the Seeds of Learning, the humane society of Naples and many others. They were nice works, the artwork that had the potential to sell, yet I chose to let them go. In this post I’d like to share both sides of the coin for other artists to consider before donating your art.

In my opinion, it all boils down to your motivation, standing behind the very act of donation. Many artists feel sour and often become negative talking about the donations they made in the past. Why?

  • Artists feel used. First, all fundraisers ask artists to donate their art for free. There is absolutely no profit going to the artist, only the promise of “getting your name out there,” or getting “exposure.” In my experience, name recognition or a promise of exposure is not worth it. I had zero contacts coming in from my donations.
  • Second, although it’s said that your donations are tax-deductible, they are, but not for the artist. Say you bought a piece for $100. If you donate it to a charity, you can write $100 off as your tax deduction. If the artist donates his artwork, he or she can deduct only the cost of art supplies used to manufacture the piece. The deduction sum doesn’t include the artist’s labor, level of expertise, tuition loans, years spent learning, etc. Therefore, when the artist donates, he or she gives it away for real, which looks unfair to the artist at times, because the institution seems to “make money” using the artist. Moreover, in my experience only half of organizations that sold my art for their purposes sent a “thank you” note to me. And none of them shared the information on price it went for or the client’s name without me asking about it.
  • Third, many think that your art donation devalues your art because it can sell for any price and you have no control over its pricing. It’s also a sign that you are a “weak” artist since you donate art instead of selling it. Therefore, if you aim to make money via donations, don’t do it not to get disappointed with meager results.

 

Now I’m going back to my original idea: your inner motivation  is the whole point of donation. I donate because I feel good helping others. It sounds cheesy, but I feel fortunate I live in a place where I can create, and I’m able to share my gift with purpose at heart. I feel that my art can change the world for the better, even if it looks like a drop in the ocean today. Like most artists, I’m proud of the fact that I’m not motivated by greed or a lucrative business to paint. Most artists paint no matter what, walking against the grit of problems, and the financial pursuit via donations is not the right path to take. Let’s become financially successful in other ways, guys! 🙂