Become a better artist: Plan, practice, critique! | Michael Cooper-Stachowsky | Skillshare

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Become a better artist: Plan, practice, critique!

teacher avatar Michael Cooper-Stachowsky, Creative explorer

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

5 Lessons (41m)
    • 1. Lesson 1 Introduction

    • 2. Lesson 2 How to Critique

    • 3. Lesson 3 Artist Inventory

    • 4. Lesson 4 Targeted Practice

    • 5. Lesson 5 Class Projecct

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About This Class

It's easy to say that we need to practice more - but how? What should you be doing to get the most out of your practice? And how do you know it's working?

In this class I'll take you through techniques I've learned that help me to focus my art practice in order to get better at drawing, painting, or anything else.  We'll learn:

  • What is the purpose of critiques, and how can we critique our own work effectively?
  • How can you ask good questions to get the most out of someone else's critique of your work?
  • How to evaluate what you are good at and what you need to grow on
  • How to choose targeted practice in order to improve
  • How to effectively work in our comfort zones so that we get the most out of everyday practice

So I hope you join me in this course and learn a lot!

Meet Your Teacher

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Michael Cooper-Stachowsky

Creative explorer


I love learning, and my day job is all about teaching students how to succeed in their careers and in university.  If I can learn it, I want to share my passion with everyone.  

I teach courses in two main areas - productivity and career advice, and art! I know those sound like two very different things, but they are united through my passion to teach and to learn.

I'm a self-taught urban sketcher from Canada.  I've always been interested in sketching and drawing, but I wasn't able to really learn how to do it until I started to focus my creative energy and treat drawing and sketching as a set of problems to solve.  I like to teach the way I learn - I start with a problem, and I give you ideas to work through them and get past them.  Follow me... See full profile

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1. Lesson 1 Introduction: Hi, and welcome to the Skillshare course on planning your practice to improve your art. In this course, we're gonna talk about some techniques you can use to excel at what you're already doing and just use that information to really grow as an artist. So who is this class for? Anyone who wants to move forward in their art will really appreciate this class. Who it's really for though is anyone who feels that they're stuck and don't really see any progress. So if you've been drawing the same thing or painting the same thing or whatever it is you've been doing and you really find that you're not making any progress. This class is for you. So what are we going to learn? We're going to learn about the importance of self critique and how to critique your own work so that you can grow without having to worry about hurting your own feelings. Then we're going to talk about how to get critiques from others. Because oftentimes we miss important things in our art. And so by asking other people what they think they're going to give us a lot more information. We're then going to talk about, well, now that I have a critique, what do I do with it? So how do I use my critique to focus on what I can do next? We're gonna talk about the importance of your comfort zone and art and how you can use your comfort zone to grow. And then how to plan your practice to really engage. So why this course? Well, I spend a lot of time learning how I learned. That's actually something that I find most fun. And honestly when I'm doing art, most of what I'm doing is enjoying the learning process. Now since I've spent so much time here, I want to share that with you. So I want to show you some strategies that I've used to help me to improve my art. There is a class project in this course and what we're going to be doing is completing essentially a current artist profile of yourself. This is where you understand what you can do well, what you need to improve on what your best mediums are and where you want to be as an artist. You're then going to use that to choose three projects to help you improve. So I hope that you're ready for the class. Let's get started. 2. Lesson 2 How to Critique: So before you can improve your art, you have to know what you need to improve if you're just drawing and not really looking at what you're doing or painting or sculpting, whatever it is that you're doing. And you just create a sculpture and painting and you put it into your closet and you're done. Well, that's not really going to help you to improve as m. So the first thing we're gonna talk about in this course is what is critique? How do you self critique? And how do you get good critiques from others? It'll help you to improve. I'm going to use an interesting definition here. And if you've watched any of my other videos, and especially the videos, right, I talked about rebellious ideas. This is one of them because I'm going to use the word bad. The definition that I'm going to use for critique is a targeted, actionable discussion on the good and bad in a piece of art. Now usually when we're looking at art, we say, well, there's no such thing as bad art. And I want to explain what that means as we go through this video and understand that it can be bad, it just that doesn't mean that you're going to be constantly making art that no one will appreciate. Let's talk about what that means. First, let's focus on the good. Some of the best advice I ever got us beginner artist was to tell yourself what went well. And this isn't just a prop up your ego. If you think about something that you've done really well, you're really proud of. Then if you've done it well, you want to keep doing that thing. And so if you're able to articulate, I really got the shading well, on that apple that I just drew or whatever it is, you're able to answer the question. How can I do that again to make it better? And how can I generalize that to other subjects? All right, but now let's talk about this bad word. The word bad. It's very easy to be overly critical of our own work. And when I look at the work that I've done even two or three years ago, I don't like it. It's not very good. Realistically, it did not align with what I intended. But it helped me to grow. It's not something that I'm really going to put up on my wall, but it's going to be something that I need to objectively look at to understand how I can improve and how I can do better. Sometimes though, if you ask for critique, other people might just miss your intention. So someone says, Well, I don't really like the colors you use here, but you really wanted to use say, an orange for the sunset of a yellow, whatever it is. Then that's not what I mean when I say the word bad, it's not that someone doesn't like it. Whether it is, is where your intention doesn't work out. And sometimes we have to be honest with ourselves, they can't all be winners. Sometimes we make art that just isn't very good. That's what a sketchbook is for, that's what learning is four. Now, something very important to understand when we start talking about bad art is that It's really easy to become defensive, to become afraid of admitting that you made mistakes or that your vision doesn't really match your artwork. And that's not what I want you to do. I want you to recognize that every steppingstone, every single breaststroke, every single switch of your pencil, everything is there for Learning. So if your art didn't become a winner, that doesn't mean you can't become an artist. It just means you have more to learn. But now let's talk about what, what is it that is bad about this art? Maybe I made two years ago, I just started drawing maybe and, and I don't like it. Why not? What does it mean to be bad in art? Well, you have a vision in your head as an artist, you know what you wanted to do. The question you have to ask yourself is, did I do that? If the answer objectively is no, you really want it to hit the sunlight bouncing off of the glass and it just didn't work out in your painting, for example. Then you can say that didn't work out. I did that badly. It's okay to give yourself that permission. Notice it is not a judgment on the quality of the art. I'm not telling you that this art isn't good enough, that other people won't like it. That is irrelevant. This, we are learning about how you make art that you like. Did you hit your vision or not? That's the question you have to answer. Now, what are some pitfalls of critiquing your own art? So we already talked about the fact that we might make bad art sometimes. And it's really easy to fall into the trap of saying everything I do was bad. Well, you know, that isn't true. You know, it isn't true because you've enjoyed making the art. So if you enjoyed making that art that you are now sharing, maybe with yourself, maybe looking through a sketchbook, it isn't all bad. Also, we can point out every mistake and we can spend hours telling ourselves what we did wrong. It's important to acknowledge that something went wrong. It's important to talk about broad things we can fix, but it's not important to talk about every single little brushstroke, every single little time the pen hit the paper and how it wasn't what you wanted. On the other hand, we can also be very vague and being vague is something that I want to bring up again and again when we're talking in this course, I like the colors. Well, what does that mean? What do you like about the colors? Did you think that the color of the sunlight was particularly good because it was, say, a mourning scene and you really nailed the sunrise. On the other hand, do you think that you've got the colors of the bird, right? Because you think that it worked extremely well with the background. So if you can be more specific than you can gain more from your critiques, self critique or otherwise. Sometimes we'd like to hide behind the idea of it's just my style. And this is especially true when we're trying to say paint loose or draw looser or whatever it happens to be. We're not focusing on the details, but then we give ourselves permission to be sloppy. Saying that, well, that's just my style. It's not important to your critique. Wasn't going to help me because, you know, I intended to do that and not really meaning it and just trying to say it because you want to hide behind that and not really hurt your own feelings, that's not going to help you to grow. So if something is actually a stylistic choice and you'll know that in your heart, then it's okay to say that's just my style. On the other hand, if someone says something then it kinda made you feel bad because he worked really hard on that. And you just say, well, that's just my style. Maybe you need to thank the person and move on. And finally, sometimes you can ask questions that are not very specific and they will not help you to grow. And this is especially true when you're looking for an external critique. Asking something like, what can I get a critique? The problem is that the person critiquing your work doesn't know what you wanted to do. They don't understand your vision necessarily unless you have a large body of work that I'll align to the similar vision. So just saying, can I get a critique? Well, maybe that person is going to focus on your use of atmospheric perspective when in fact, what you really wanted to know is whether or not you've got the proportions right of the mountain. And so you need to be very specific in your questions. So here's an example of a good question to ask. I was trying to use atmospheric perspective to push the mountain into the background and bring out the foreground. What do you think about that? Did I achieve that here is my vision, here is what I wanted to do. Did I get it right? If the answer is well, no, I don't think it worked out. Why not? Can you please explain what you see? So asking specific questions helps you to understand things from other people's point of view. Now let's talk about self critique. Self critiquing as the first step that all of us do. And sometimes we do it a little bit too much. So why should we do it? Well, the first thing is, you know your intentions better than anyone. And if you remember, if we want to make our art good, what that might mean is that I want my vision to align with my intentions. I want my intentions to align with what I drew or what I painted by sculpted. It's also a lot easier to self critique them to seek out external device, you have to wait for people. You have to find the right person who knows exactly what you were intending. You have to ask all the right questions. You have to wait on them to get back to you. You have to burden them with your time. So sometimes it's important to get an external critique. But if you can self critique, it's going to help you to grow much faster. It can also help you as you're working on a piece to note your change. So if you say completed a block in on a painting and you're not really sure where to go. Self critiquing is going to help you with that. And personally, I just loved to learn. I'll enjoy the self-motivation and maybe you do as well. So I find it to be motivational, to recognize that and maybe I'm improving. Maybe I've done something that I can work on. And so that's another reason to self critique. Now the first thing I want you to do is to point out the good. Always point out the good. And remember you're not just doing this, a bump, bump your ego. And to make yourself feel better about all the mistakes you made it. You're doing this because you want to know what do you like? Why did it work and how you do it again? You should focus on things you can do again or that maybe you can improve on, but you have been improving on already. As an example, I might say something like I liked the brushwork on the bird's head. And I use a dry brush technique to do it. That's a really good way of focusing on what you can do into which you can improve on. So if I'm drawing or painting a bird again, I might go back to that dry brush technique. But then you should also point out the actionable items for improvements, something that you can do better with. Don't say, I hate it again, that's being vague in through the entire course. We're going to talk about how not to be vague. Focus on specifics with actionable items. For example, I think the shadow is too dark and it really throws a contrast off. Then say, what are you going to do? Well, next time I'll try to add more white. You might notice that being vague is something that's really going to sink you here if you're trying to improve your art. And so I want you to choose one or two good and bad things to focus on each time. Really, really go in depth. Don't list a 100 things you think you did wrong. List one thing you think you did wrong or that you can improve on, It's overwhelming to focus on everything. And I'll give you an example of my own work. Now I was planning on not doing this. I was planning on not showing you this early painting, but why not? Here it is. This is objectively not a good hummingbird. I have to admit that there's a lot of stuff that I did that I don't like. It did not align with my vision. But that doesn't mean that the entire thing is just to be thrown out in the garbage. So what do I like about it? Well, I like the brushwork on the body. I tried to learn to use broken color techniques here. I tried to get multiple different colors showing up. And I did that by constantly cleaning my brush and adding the new color. That was something I wasn't doing before and it worked in this painting. Now on the other hand, I think there are major drawing errors, especially with portions the head and length of the neck. And so what I can use this critique for is to understand that when I'm painting, say a hummingbird again. And I have done this hummingbird exercise many times because I quite like them. I think they have really nice colors. I now know what I need to do to get the broken color technique I want. But I also know I need to go back to my sketchbook and get my pencil in my hand to get those drawing problem-solve so the proportions make more sense. All right, So it's your turn. Twos, one piece of art that you've recently done, write down one thing you liked, why you liked it and how you did it. Remember you want to be focused and you want to bring it with you to the next one. Write down one thing you don't like. Why don't like it. And what you will do differently. Remember, you want to bring that to your sketch book or whatever it is and try to focus your improvement on that. This is going to form one part of your class projects, so make sure you write it down. All right, let's finish up this video with talking about external critique. So we can't always know what we need to improve. Sometimes we do have to ask for other people's opinions. So the first question you might ask is, well, where do I even get a critique in the first place? I don't know any artists, you know, and maybe I'm the only person working alone in my little home studio. So how did we get to critique? Well, social media is astonishingly good at giving critiques, especially Reddit, and I strongly recommend going to read it. There's a subreddit for almost every medium you can imagine. And you can post and ask for specific critiques. I've done this many, many times over many, many years, and it has helped me immensely to be able to ask what I can improve and to understand things from other people's perspective. There are many services that offer paid critiques, including one called Art proffered And they're really fantastic. They are very expensive though. So typically, you're asking a professional artist for an hour to two hours of either time to look over your portfolio. If you're going to go the paid critique root, I strongly recommend having a portfolio of stuff then you know, a 100 percent what you want out of that. I wouldn't really pay money to someone if I just want them to take a look at my sketchbook and tell me how I'm using the pencil. You can talk to friends or family now you need to be aware of the fact that when you talk to your friends and family, they're probably going to try to spare your feelings. And you can also post on Skillshare. So many Skillshare teachers ask you to post stuff and then they will give you feedback. That's a fantastic opportunity for you to get that critique. All right, well, how do you get a bad critic heading at something you can't really use, right? This is something you have to be aware of. Is that asking someone for their opinion? They say, I like it wasn't really helpful. So again, we're going to say be vague. If you're vague, what did you like about it? Well, I don't know I don't know how to answer that question of the hurting your feelings. Is it good? Well, I really don't know the answer to that question. If your artwork is good or not, that depends on on so many things. Maybe I didn't like it, but that doesn't mean it isn't good. Being defensive. If someone says, I don't really think that the trees in the background were were well done. I think they're a little bit too too blurry or there's too much contrast. Yeah, well, that's just my style. Being defensive. When someone is giving you a critique, you're asking them to take time out of their day to give you information to improve for yourself. If you didn't want someone to tell you they didn't like it, were to tell you what to improve, then you shouldn't have asked her critique. Remember, if you know it's your style. You still see. Thank you. Thank you. That's an interesting perspective. My personal style was to do this. But if you know in your heart of hearts that it wasn't really a stylistic choice. Well then you have to admit that to yourself. You also can ask someone who doesn't want to hurt your feelings, especially your parents and maybe a spouse or your friends. They may not want to tell you that you didn't really knock it out of the park with this one. And so you're not going to get a very useful actionable critique. So how do you maximize the value of a critique, whether external or internal, let us say self critique. But this is mainly for people actually asking for external help. Be very specific about what it is you want. For example, I might say, I don't think the shadow on the body works, but I don't know why What's wrong with it. So I'm explaining that I don't think it works, but I'm not asking somebody tell me it's fine. I'm telling them I don't know how to fix this. What can I do differently? Be thankful no matter what happens. Thank the person for your help. This is for a couple of reasons. First of all, remember, they're giving you a huge amount of time to look for this. And also, it's kinda rude not to. And be honest with yourself. So sometimes someone will say, I didn't really like this, this work. It wasn't wasn't very good to me. Well, is it just the person doesn't like it? Or is it something you need to improve in your art? So only you will know this if they point out something that you already know it is not aligned with your vision, then it's something you need to improve. On the other hand, if you're really proud of something and I was like, I just don't like pictures of Paris. Well, so be, it doesn't really matter, then that critique wasn't very helpful to you. Here's an example of one that I asked for. And I actually asked this on Reddit. And what I did was I was trying to learn some extreme perspectives and trying to understand how to align the box. But something really didn't make sense to me, which is that my standard understanding of three-point perspective completely throw out the window. It was useless and I didn't know why. So I started with labeling my drawing with questions in this case because it's a very visual medium. I had to show what I wanted and so I had to explain, you know, what, why don't I need this vanishing point on the horizon, what I do wrong? And a bunch of other questions, you can see them there. And then in the actual post, I asked very clear questions to explain specifically. I said, you know, I thought this was just a regular two-point perspective, but but it didn't quite work out. I don't understand why. And actually got a fantastic response. I learned a lot about perspective from that critique. And all it is is just a box with the circle in it. Alright, so now it's your turn. I want you to take the same piece of art that you worked with before. Craft one really good question to ask if you were to get a critique about it. Now you can post this in the discussions below. You can show me that would be great. In fact, I would love to give you critique. You can put it on Reddit and this is going to form part of your class project as a practice for learning how to get good critiques. 3. Lesson 3 Artist Inventory: So although it might all be well and good to ask for a good critique. If you don't know what you want out of this, then it's not going to help you to improve. So in this video, we're going to talk about something called an artist inventory. And I want you to make one. I want you to make one for yourself and to understand who you are. So what's in this inventory? Well, it's a list of media you work with your thoughts on them, first of all, so I, for example, work in quite a few media, but I only really love a couple of them and the rest of this we're playing around. So I want to make sure that in my inventory I talked about which ones I really want to get good at, which ones that are just really there for playing. A clear description of what you want as an artist right now is next. So what that means is not where you want to be in ten years. You know, you want to have gallery representation. You want people to be paying thousands or millions of dollars for your workout. Yeah. Okay. But where you want to be right now, what is it you think that if you could do right now you'd be successful app. And then it'll list of things you want to work on. This is your inventory that's going to help you shape how you practice. So the first step is to redefine your relationship with your media. The first thing we're going to think about is, are you skilled at a particular medium? And when I say skilled, I don't mean are you an absolute expert? I don't mean are you the person that everyone goes to when they want a pencil drawing or whatever it is. There's no that's not what I mean. I mean, if your vision and your artwork agree more in that medium than another, then you have some skills. And you'll notice I'm not using the word talent. Talent is something that people think is innate and you either have it or you don't, but skills are things you can grow. And so if you feel that one of your mediums is just something you're particularly good at or something where you have a vision in your mind and you get the closest possible, then that's good to know. So are you particularly skilled at one or more media compared to others? And how does it make you feel? So I'll give an example of myself in the next slide when talking about pen and ink. But pen and ink is something I'm particularly skill that, but I actually don't like it as much. I prefer to use paints. They're just not not my best medium. So then the question you have to ask ourselves, well, why are you skilled at that medium? So is it a personal thing? You know, maybe you have just been using paint since forever and since you were three years old, your parents gave you a set of paints and you've never stopped. And that's why you're very good. Maybe it's something to do with the medium itself compared to others. So for me, when I'm doing a drawing medium like a pencil or pen and ink, I'm just better at them because I have to go slower and I can work in more detail than I can with my acrylic paints. And so I just happen to know that those mediums are things that I tend to be better. And then why are you not as skill that the other media, you know, what is it that's different. If you can understand this, then you can start asking yourselves questions. I will hang on a second. I'm not very good at making extremely detailed acrylic drawings. Maybe it's my brushes, maybe it's my understanding of brush controller or the paints I'm using, right? We can explore that. So we can ask ourselves, what is it that I need to do differently? So let's take an example here. This is my example in pen and ink, and this is a pen and ink drawing that I did. And you'll notice that it got a little bit lazy towards the end there on the left-hand side. But I feel as though I am particularly skilled at pen and ink drawing. I can often get my vision and what's on the page to agree. So why is it that I'm skilled and I've spent a lot of time thinking about this. Why is it that pen and ink is something I am particularly good at? Well, first of all, it is a slow medium so I can't huge Lee put ink on my page and it doesn't work. I can't do that because you're dealing with a very, very small thing on which to apply the ink. And so I have to necessarily spent a lot of time on the details that I'm putting into my drawings and therefore I'm able to really slow down, think about them and put them in the right place. Another thing is it doesn't have any color, so there's a whole dimension of complexity I don't need to worry about because when you're looking at pen and ink, it's black or it isn't, and that makes it a lot easier to work with. I'm also very familiar with the tools. I mean, I write with a pen all the time and so it's something that I'm familiar with, how I hold. I know how ink goes down and honestly, I've been doing pen and ink work for years and years. And although I don't really consider myself to be the greatest museum quality professional artist. I do think that Pentateuch because somewhere that I really have skill in because I've just been doing it for so long. And knowing this, it's going to help me to understand those media that I'm not particularly good at. And let's take for example, acrylic painting. So I don't feel that I'm very skilled here. And remember, skill means whether my vision aligns with reality. So you might look at this painting. This is a painting I did of a fruit bowl and you might think it's fine, maybe it is. I don't really, really worry too much about that. But what I am worried about is the fact that my vision for this painting and just about every acrylic painting that I tend to do, it doesn't really align with what I want. Well, why is that? So it's not enough to say I'm bad at acrylic painting. That doesn't make any sense and that's certainly not true. It's that maybe brushes are very hard to control. You've got, if you think about the difference between pen and ink and a paintbrush, well, the paintbrush is floppy, It's literally hairs. It's very difficult to control and is not as small, so appends nib is extremely tiny. In fact, I use 0.03 inch inch nibs are very, very tiny compared to my my brushes, which are nowhere near that small even for my smallest. And other things being well paint as a liquid, right? Once you put an ink blot down, it stays. If I put paint down and I accidentally hit it with a brush, it moves around. And so that again, is something very difficult for me. And I also have color, which is a very complicated topic. I can use this and I can use when a why is it that I feel I'm better at pen and ink to understand what I need to do to get better at acrylic painting. One thing, maybe I need to defer brushes. Maybe I need smaller brushes. Maybe I need stiffer paint. Maybe I need to wait for it to dry longer. Maybe I need to spend a lot more time doing color studies and so on. So I can look at these issues. And I can start teasing out, where do I need to go in order to improve and to be who I want to be. Which is the next question you have to ask yourself. Who do you want to be right now as an artist isn't really going to be super philosophical about your life. But maybe it can't be, maybe you really want to be an artist or someone else and then you want to have that discussion with a soft. So how many times have you been asked a child or how many times have you asked children, what do you want to be when you grow up? And it turns out we are particularly awful at this. And there's a fantastic book called Stumbling on Happiness that explores this question very well. And if you ask a five-year-old, what do you want to be when they grow up and they say a tree climber. We tend to find that to be kinda funny, but that's actually not as funny as you might think it is. It's very telling about how we answer this question. We don't answer the question. What do I want to be in ten years? We answer the question, what do I want to be right now? So when you ask that five-year-old, would you want to be when you grow up and they say a tree climber, what they're really saying is they want to go and be good at climbing trees right now so they can climb more trees. And what we have to understand is that people change. That's okay. But if I can answer the second question, not what do I want to be as an artist 10 years from now, I know where I want to be as an artist 10 years from now I want to have these amazing skills where I can just close my eyes and make incredible work. But that's not going to help me. The question I have to ask myself is, what do I wish I was better at? What do I want to be right now? So why do we do this? Well, it's okay. You know, maybe you just want to draw, you just want to sculpt, you just want to play around with the art media, and that's fine. It's really good to know that you're doing it for fun or whatever it is. But even then, if you just say, I just want to draw and I give you, I don't know, a piece of chalk to draw. And I say you have to draw this piece of chalk perfectly. You're probably going to want to do it. It's boring. Maybe you do want to do it. Maybe there's something really interesting in it for you, but you're going to make that decision about why it is you want to draw what you want to draw, how it is, you want to draw it what your vision is, and that's what this exercise is going to help you. So let's say that you do just want to draw. Well, what? Why do you think you can do it right now? Can you draw? Are you satisfied what you can do? And if you're not, what does it look like when you're successful? So that's a very difficult question that we need to answer for ourselves, is we all know we can say, well, I want to be a better artist, but what does that mean? Right? When I'm successful, what happens? Maybe I can really get shadows and shading. Maybe my drawings look 3D. Maybe it has a distinguished style that really is my own. Maybe it looks really great as a cartoon, whatever it is for you. That answers the question I want to do. I want to sculpt, I want to do whatever it is. What does it look like when you're successful? What is that person who can draw look like to you? Alright, so how do we not do this extends? Well, the first one is we need to be overly ambitious. If we want to fail badly at this. I want to get better at art, okay? Well, I know I want to get better. It doesn't very helpful. I want to be able to paint a mural on the side of a building. Well, I can barely worked with 8 by 10 inch pieces. So maybe that's too ambitious. And hey, look at that we're saying being vague again, so I want to be able to paint better. Well, that isn't very helpful. What does better mean? So again, you have to really tease out these questions. What does it mean to be better at painting, at drawing, sculpting it, at performing arts, whatever it is. And to focus, right? Don't be overly ambitious. And here's an example from me. I want to be able to draw well enough that the object I draw is identifiable as the object I see in front of me, right? This was one of my early goals when I first started drawing because sometimes I would draw, for example, a peach in it would not look like a beach, that something wasn't right about it. And you couldn't tell what it was in a lot of people said, Oh, that's an interesting shading, but what is it? So one of my first, What do I want to be when I grow up answers is I want to be able to draw so that you can tell that this thing and that I'm holding in my hand is the thing I drew. And now my current where do I want to be when I grew up is I want to be able to use color effectively to convey depth, right? So this is where I want to be. So we can now use these things to make your list. And here's how I might do that with those two things that I just talked about. What do I need to do? I need to focus on my fundamental drawing skills, especially proportion, especially things like perspective. I'm to focus on proportion measuring. I need to focus on distinguishing different values in a piece, and I need to focus on color mixing. So these are for actionable items, things I can really look into. And then it can ask myself the question, well, how do I do that? I'm going to use pen and ink for my drawings because I'm most skilled with that medium. So when I'm looking at my fundamental drawing skills, I'm going to use the medium I am good at so that I don't have to worry also about the medium holding me back. I'm then going to go and watch videos. Maybe go to Skillshare, maybe I go to YouTube, maybe I go somewhere else. And I'm going to learn those drawing skills by watching others and then practicing in order to practice values, maybe I'm going to be using grayscale images and then I'm going to make color mixing charts to get started. So now I have these actionable things I can do that came from this question. Who do I want to be as an artist right now? So now it's your turn. I want you to review your media and there may be a lot and look at my list and I really want you to understand this isn't something that I'm, I'm bragging about, is this I would like to play with different media. I'm not particularly good and many of them. So I, you'd like to use pen and pencil and depends in watercolors and acrylic and Conte crayons and colored pencil that charcoal. But most of these are just for fun. I don't need to focus on getting really excellent at drawing and contact because that's not really where my skills lie is, not really where my interests lie. I just like sometimes taking a context they couldn't playing around. But I know that I like focusing on pen and pencil and an acrylic. Those are my three real mediums that I really want to get good at. Then we're going to list at least three things you want to be able to do right now as an artist. And remember, you don't want to be vague and you don't want to be overly ambitious. You want to give yourself room to grow. You can then use that to make your list of targeted practices. What do you need to do? How are you going to do it? And that's going to form part of your class project. So go and do that right now. Do not watch the next video. Go and solve these problems before you move on. 4. Lesson 4 Targeted Practice: We've finally arrived at the meat of the course targeting our practice. I'm going to talk to you about something called the comfort zone, the learning zone, and the danger zone. So I want you to think about all of your experiences as living in this nested, almost like a Russian doll. In the very center is your comfort zone that's here. This is all the stuff you're familiar with and that is very comfortable to you and you're not worried about it. You can you can handle it every single day. Outside of that is a little bit of pushing those boundaries are learnings on this is something where when you're in the zone you feel uncomfortable, you make mistakes. You're not really sure what's going on, but it's a safe place to grow. Outside of that is your danger zone. You're taking on way more than you can chew. You're almost guaranteed to fail. And all of this is encompassed in all possible experiences you might have. The comfort zone is where we like to be. And you may have heard a lot of artists talking about how when you're trying to improve, you have to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. I'm gonna give you a rebellious idea for that. Comfort zone is useful as long as you use it correctly. So the comfort zone is where you can work on things you already do well now why would I wanna do that, right? Maybe I want to constantly be growing with this. There's many reasons. The first one is to sharpen your skills. Maybe I am really good at pen and ink for now, but I can be so much better, right? There's always room for me to improve. I know that I know that I can improve in my pen and ink work. So it's not like I'm saying, I've peaked and I'm never ever going to get better than this. So I don't need to practice anymore because you do maybe you just don't have much time or energy or patients right now, maybe you've really burned yourself out trying to push your boundaries and you just want to have a pen or pencil in your hand and maybe some, put some paint on the paper, whatever it is. It doesn't matter. That's what the comfort zone is for. It's that gets you to reignite the fire you have for your art. It also lets you to build confidence and remind yourself that you can do it. So when you draw something or sculpt something or whatever it is and it looks like you wanted it too. That makes you want to push yourself further. And also the comfort zone is fantastic for experimentation. So this is where you take something you know, you're good at. And you can say, well, what if I did it a slightly different way? So you already know what you want to do. You're not being held back by the idea of, well, hang on a second. How do I draw this? What does it look like in perspective and what does it look like when it's in paint? And what are the null of those questions are too difficult to answer. So instead, you'd say, I know I can draw pair, I've got that down. I can draw my fruit. All I want. I'm not going to see what happens when I try to watercolor a pair. One extra thing, just trying to experiment, for example. Now what we need to be careful of when we're talking about a comfort zone is stagnation. This is where a lot of well-meaning artists are going to tell you, well, you need to push outside of your comfort zone. I don't necessarily agree with that, but I do agree that it's possible to stagnate because all you're doing is living in your comfort zone. So what is your comfort zone? Well, this is something you're sure you can create right now without a significant amount of effort or at least because sometimes we our comfort zones, you know, they're going to be 40 hours worth of work on a, on a big painting or whatever it is. At the very least, you're certain that if you sit down and you do it, it's going to succeed. For me. Honestly, I'm really good at drawing fruit. This is where I started this, where I started learning how to draw, where I started learning perspective in the very beginning, I wasn't graded it and that the fruits didn't look right and everything else. And now I know I can probably nail some fruit. So if I'm going to experiment with something, I'm probably going to start with like a pair for example, because I know I can do it and then the experimentation makes my life easy. So how do you use your comfort zone effectively? Again, you're going to start by choosing something you know, you can do very well. And now if you want to learn to grow, then you're going to choose one thing to change it. That's not what you want it. Let's say that all you wanna do is just paint today are just draw whatever it is, then just go and draw your comfort zone, please. If something that's going to really motivate you and it'll get you that satisfaction of success. But if you want to change something focused on one thing you want to change, nail the easy parts first, get them out of the way, and then focus on that one thing I'll give you an example. In this case, I kinda knew that I could nail the hazelnut. This is a hazelnut and it's lying on a tablecloth. Maybe it is. I knew I could do that. I wasn't super concerned. So I knew then that I also want to focus on the shadows. And you'll notice this one is actually an acrylic. And that's because I wanted to learn to grow and acrylic for something I already knew how to do in my other media specifically, I could draw the hazelnut with my eyes closed. So now I wanted to focus on the shadows. Now let's critique the work, right? So when we're doing our growth mindset art, we have to recognize that we're not always going to nail it. So the cache shadow is too dark as a self critique, looking at this, shadows are not black and that's what I made the mistake of. I just use black for my shadow and that that was incorrect. I should use more white next time. The shading of the nut though it's great. I think I did that really, really well. The reason it worked out really well is because I used lots of color variation. So again, now we're going back to when we talked about how to do a self critique. We're talking now about how do you excel and how do you learn from failures? This is always what you're going to be doing to ignite your art practice. And so here, I knew I could do the nut, but something didn't quite go right. And I have an actionable thing to do. Alright, well, let's leave our comfort zone for a second. Now we're in something called the learning zone. This is where it's really uncomfortable. That's the idea, right? You're outside of your comfort zone is not quite right. You're making mistakes. You don't exactly know how to do everything. And honestly, when you sit down, you are not sure if it's going to succeed. It might it might not. The learning zone is where you push yourself. So when you really, really want to expand what you can do, It's excellent for increasing your skill. This is really where you have to work to increase your skills. But you also have to be careful because you might be in the wrong place. That is to say that you might be pushing yourself way too far, or you might think you're pushing yourself but you're not. So as an example for me, when I was in my comfort zone drawing fruit, for example. And I did that for honestly months and months, just trying to practice drawing fruit. I thought my learning zone was trying to draw an arrangement of two or three different fruit and is in the scene and that actually wasn't it. That was just a waste of my time because it wasn't interesting to me. And I was a stagnating there. I was just drawing fruit again. So I had to break out of that until my learnings. And now you're learning zone is defined from your list from before. So you've already explained what you want to work out. You've already talked to yourself about what it is that you need to get better at and how those are the actionable items. That's where you're going to focus. When you start on the learning zone project, you have to do two things. You have to really push yourself to get it right. If it's too hard, if it's not working out for you, maybe you're too ambitious, you're trying too hard to try to do too many things. But if not, don't be lazy, don't just accept good enough. At the same time, allow yourself to fail. Some media you can't go back in, right? For example, if you're carving wood and you have a chisel and you've taken a piece of wood out. Well, it's not going back on. If you're drawing in pen that mark is permanent and you're only going to have to make it darker to get around it. Sometimes if it's a pencil shirt, you can erase, but you might fail. And that's okay. The learning zone is a place where you aren't sure, but maybe you can succeed, hopefully you can succeed. And here's an example for me. Now you've already seen this particular example. This is the one I asked for a good critique on for credit. But let's see why didn't even do this, right? Sort of, if you think about the fundamentals of drawing, the first thing everyone learns to do is draw a box and then they start learning about linear perspective. So what is it that made this such an important learning zone project? Well, I wanted to ask myself questions about perspective that I didn't really know how to answer. For example, what happens if I take a box in this case, there's actually a cylinder I was trying to draw but it didn't work out. And would if I tilt it and it's on the horizon and it's tilted in multiple different axes. And then what happens and how did you do this? And I really, really focused on this. It felt uncomfortable. It felt like I should know how to do this, but I just didn't. And the reason was because I was using an outdated and incorrect understanding of vanishing points and perspective. So I knew that I really want to get the proportions right. I knew that I wanted to draw a circle properly in perspective. I did not succeed at that. But I learned a huge amount. And you'll notice that I use this to get a critique. Great, because I wasn't certainly it would work. And I've learned a huge amount about perspective just because I went a little bit further using my list of things that I want to improve on. I went a little bit further and really tried to push myself here. And so now I'm going to go back and I'm going to do it again and again and again until I really understand what's going on. But what about the dangers on the danger zone is, is kind of interesting because it's art and a lot of us are hobbyists. And it's not like there's a high-stakes here. If you're painting doesn't really work out this Saturday, it doesn't really make a difference to your livelihood, for example. But it's a danger zone because it can be extremely demotivating for you. So this is where you're way too complicated for your level. So for me in particular, we're talking about my danger zone in a minute. But if certain things that I really, really don't yet know how to even approach. Drawing. The danger zone is where you're almost guaranteed to fail. Where you sit down and, you know, it's just not going to work out and, you know, it's going to be too difficult. You're talking yourself down from it. If you're in that situation, then you need to think of a different project to work on. It is a waste of supplies, especially if you go out and you buy these fancy new paints are an amazing amount of clay or whatever it is and you know, it's not going to work out and you waste them all anyway. It's also a complete waste of your time. If you're in the danger zone, you know your notes, you're going to succeed. You're also not really going to learn from that. And it's very demotivating because you've tried, maybe it took you seven hours and it's just not working. So my example is the human figure. When I tried to draw the human figure, I just can't quite get my head around it yet. It's too difficult for me. Honestly, I'm not even going to add an image here because none of my figure drawings have really worked out. But notice what I'm saying here. It's far beyond my skill at the moment. I will learn how to draw the human figure. I know I can do it, but I know that I can't do it now. So if I draw the human figure and I tried to really get it right, It's not going to work for me and I'd rather focus on other things, for example, that extreme perspective so that when I have a figure in extreme perspective, I now don't have to worry about that extra part. So now it's up to you. Choose your projects. In the next video, we're gonna talk about the class project and what you're going to do to focus your practice. 5. Lesson 5 Class Projecct: So now we've finally arrived at the class project. And your class project, you're going to put together everything you've learned in this class. You're going to be working on writing your artist's inventory. Now, I've provided a PDF you can print and fill in. You can also just do it on your own. You can read it by hand, whatever works for you. You have to include at least five things. A self critique of a piece of work you've done. Remember we talked about this right in the very beginning. Take a piece of work and do a self critique. You know how to do that. Remember to tell yourself the good and the bad. Don't just focus on what you hate, and don't just focus on what you love. A good question to ask for an external critique. Take that same picture, sculpture, whatever it is, and formulate a good question that will help you to advance. List out the media you work in, even if it's only one. And your thoughts on why you are or are not as skilled as you'd like to be. Then write a clear description of what you want to be as an artist right? Now, remember, you're not focusing on a decade from now. You're answering this question, what does success look like for me right now? And then a targeted list of at least three things to work on. This is your inventory. Once you have that done, I want you to use it to decide what to practice on for at least one week and then go back to inventory and evaluate. Did it work for you? If not, what has to be changed? I want you to share what you've done. I'd love to take a look at your inventories. I'd love to help you get and get some goods critiques. And I really would love to see how you're succeeding because of this course. Thank you so much for listening, and I hope that you can use this to grow as an artist.