Discover Your Art Style | Ria Sharon | Skillshare

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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

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Pencil Study


    • 3.

      Black and White Study


    • 4.

      Color Study


    • 5.

      Prompt Study


    • 6.

      Subject Study


    • 7.

      Closing Reflection


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About This Class

Join artist and illustrator, Ria Sharon for this 14-minute class that offers a unique approach to discovering your unique artistic voice. Ria guides you through a series of five simple exercises (in five video lessons) that help you identify and nurture your distinct style. All that is required is basic art supplies, 30 minutes a day, and an openness to the process.

This class is perfect for anyone who wants a little encouragement for their art practice, whether as a professional or just starting out. By the end, you’ll have a collection of work that can serve as a guidepost for where you want to go next with your art.

Meet Your Teacher

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Ria Sharon

Practice Makes Better.


There is no path to mastery that does not involve doing something over and over -- that's been my experience as an artist and illustrator!

So I encourage my students to take small consistent steps by creating bite-sized classes that make art a simple, easy, daily practice -- one that is joyful and fun!

I occasionally post what's in my own sketchbook on a brand new Instagram page. If you're interested in what goes on in my art-making process behind-the-scenes, join my private Secret Sketches group. That's where I share things that are not ready for the interwebs yet. :)


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1. Introduction: What is it about your art that is recognizable and uniquely your own? This is a question that plagues every artist I know, and it's related to this existential pondering of why we even bother to create anything. What is it about what we're doing that's important or that matters? What if, for the purpose of this class, we imagine that this thing called "Our Personal Style" is this something we have to work really hard to find. Instead, what if it's something that we already have, and it's a matter of discovering ways that we can reveal it and cultivate it? I've put together a series of five exercises that will do just that. It requires nothing more from you than committing to do the assignments along with me, each one is less than 30 minutes. In the classroom, under the class project tab, you'll see downloads that you'll need for each exercise. As you watch each video, download the corresponding file. I suggest watching one video a day for the five days. That way you're not spending any more than 30 minutes a day, and you're still devoting some time to your art practice on a daily basis. Let's get started. 2. Pencil Study: Are you ready? Okay get yourself a pencil and a piece of paper. In the class project tab of the Classroom, there's a file that's labeled Exercise 1. Download that and then set your timer for 30 minutes, and start drawing what you see in that file. The very last step, which is really important, is once you're done with your sketch, snap a picture of it and upload it into the Classroom. So this is really important, you'll see at the end, so don't skip it. Okay I'm going to do a quick demo. Please note that this sketch took me 25 minutes and I've condensed this whole video into two and a half minutes. So no, I don't draw this fast, but I figured I'd give you a peek into my process as we go. Just so you know, when I'm faced with a blank canvas, I have the very natural and common response of panic. My inner critic starts in with, what are you doing? You'll never be able to do it this time. I know every time you managed to eke it out, but not this time, you're going to fall flat on your face and just embarrass yourself. But regardless of what that voice is saying, the other one tells myself, you know what, I'm just going to keep going, I'm going to look at that picture and I'm just going to draw this little part over here and shape this little part over there and make this funny shape over here and I know it doesn't look like much right now, but I'm just going do this for 30 minutes, and not think too much about what it looks like. I guarantee you there will be a point in the process where you will want to rip up the whole thing and pretend it never happened. I like to call that point in the piece the awkward team stage, it's just ugly. But that poor sketch you can't give up on it, you just have to give it a chance to fully develop. So if this is uncomfortable for you, I want to reassure you that all the fields are completely normal, you're not alone with any of the feelings. One difference between artists and non-artists is that artists feel fear and make art anyway. 3. Black and White Study: Okay it's time for our second exercise. Again, you're going to set your timer for 30 minutes, and in the class project tab there will be a file that's labeled exercise two, download that, and this time, we're still going to be working from the same image, but this time you'll get to choose what medium you want to use. Instead of everybody doing everything with pencil, you can choose brush and ink, guash, acrylic, watercolor, whatever you'd like. Again the very last step once you're done is to share that in the classroom, so you'll add what you have to your existing project, just click, "Update" and then upload your picture. I'm going to do another demo. Also note that you don't have to use up all 30 minutes. The point of setting the time is to show you that you can actually make art in less time than it takes to watch an episode of Gilmore Girls or whatever shows you get to pleasure these days. For this exercise I decided to use brush and ink, and this sketch took me about ten minutes. Something I did notice as I was reviewing the footage, is that in both demos, I start by making some broad strokes first and then I go back and work on smaller details. Some people work left to right or right to left. Pay attention to what feels comfortable and what feels right to you because there is no right or wrong. Remember to have fun with this. There's no pressure. You're not being judged or graded. Even though I am watching to see if you upload your sketches. Just kidding. 4. Color Study: It's time for our third assignment to go back into the class project tab and there'll be a file labeled exercise number three. If I could for this exercise, I would have the image self-destruct after a minute. Because the point of this exercise is to draw it from memory. So first set your timer for one minute and study the image carefully and then put it away. Then you can set your timer for 30 minutes. Now you don't have to use the whole 30 minutes, but draw this as best you can and again, you can choose whatever medium you want to use and whatever color palette you want to use. Remember our last step. Let's write. Edit your project and upload your latest image. Again, I'll be doing a demo. I start with a quick loose pencil sketch so I know where I want to place everything. Then similarly to the first two demos, I start filling in the large areas first and then go back in for the details. That inner critic was loud and persistent with this exercise for me because I didn't have the comfort and the crutch of a reference image to go back to. So well, in the first one I was saying to myself, just draw what's in front of you. This exercise is a little different. I'm having to use my imagination, which personally is a vulnerable place for me. I feel much more confident about my ability to observe rather than imagine. So to overcome that, I ask myself to tell a story about the inspiration image. What do I remember about the mood or the emotion? How would I capture that in a sketch rather than trying to replicate the exactness if it was in the image itself? Then I can rely on what I know about light and shadow and volume to fill in the details. Again, I want to reassure you that whatever trepidation you feel during the process is very natural and there's something forwarding about being able to embrace fear as part of the creative process. You can use this exercise as an opportunity to get to know your fear. Just like when you're sketching and defining the edges of things, you can start to feel the edges of when you're afraid. Like what are the thoughts that go along with the feeling? Where do you feel it in your body? At what point does it begin and what point does it go away? Because it generally does. For me, I know in my body because I felt it that it does not last and it is not constant. It is most acute right before I make my first mark and then in the middle during the teen I believe and then there's a point when I step back and I'm actually pleasantly surprised with what I see on the page. 5. Prompt Study: It's time for our fourth assignment. Again, go back to the Class Project tab and download the file that's labeled Exercise number 4. This one is going to be different than the previous ones and it's a surprise. I'm going to do a little demo, but basically you need to follow the prompt that you see in that file. Again, the very last piece, the last step of our assignment, is to share your finished piece. The intention for this fourth exercise is for you to make a sketch that's inspired by the word in the file. I didn't pick a word like shoe or car, although I'm actually pretty sure people's choices of shoes and cars are quite personal. The word for today's assignment is not a tangible object, and therefore even that much more open to personal influence. So go ahead and set your timer. You can spend some of that time brainstorming different approaches you'd like to take with this. You can use whatever medium you'd like, whatever color palette you'd like. I'm really looking forward to seeing your sketches. 6. Subject Study: Our final assignment for the class, you'll find a file again labeled exercise number 5, so set your timer for 30 minutes and go to time on that last prompt. I will be doing a demo here as well and then finally, upload that last finished piece to the classroom. Our very last prompt is wide open. Do you see a pattern now? From exercise one when he had very few choices to this one, or you can do whatever you want. You get to pick whatever it is that you're curious about, or you're feeling right now. [inaudible] helps deepened character development for picture books for the last couple of months. So given a choice and building my sketching muscles, around capturing emotions. The world is your oyster friends go crazy, you can sketch patterns, still lives, landscapes, portraits. If you're having trouble coming up with ideas, you can take a peek at SketchBook Magic, which is another class I have, and use the magic bold technique that I introduced in that class. We'll have one last video after this one, where we put all of our assignments together and review them as a collection. So remember to upload your assignment when you're done sketching and I'll see you in the next video. 7. Closing Reflection: One of my favorite books on the artistic process is a book that's titled Art and Fear. You may know it if you took my sketchbook magic class. But in that book, the authors say that style is a natural consequence of habit. So let's ponder that as we unpack what we did in the last five exercises. In exercise 1, we worked from the same black and white image, using the same medium. But what accounts for the differences in the final products? The kind of pencil you chose? That kind of paper you chose? Scale, whether it's big or small? The way you chose to hold your pencil? The kind of strokes you chose to use? The amount of pressure you put on the pencil? These are all choices that you probably make habitually that make up your style. In exercise 2, we worked from the same black and white image, but this time we introduced an additional variable, medium. I chose brush and ink because that's what was handy, and it's handy because I use it a lot. My medium definitely defined how my final product looked, especially compared to someone who say, picked pen and ink instead. So what did you use? In the third exercise, we introduced several variables, color, and imagination. You might have noticed and remembered different things about our inspiration image, and rendered the colors differently than I did. I happen to use colors that were in my palate already. Again, this is because these are colors that I use all the time. So I have a feeling that my end product is going to be similar to lots of other things in my sketchbook, just from that perspective. In the fourth exercise, we're opening up to even more interpretation. The word "full" might mean so many different things, depending on our unique life experiences, or culture or native language. So I expect our end products will be vastly different. The last exercise is a blank canvas. We got to choose medium, color, and finally, subject matter. So naturally, this will be a subject that holds some interest for you right now, and this will be individual. Now take a minute to turn a non-critical eye and observe all of the pieces together. Do you start to see the results of your habits? The choices that you make again and again, regardless of medium, color or subject? Perhaps it's subtle and that's why it helps to put your work besides someone else's. What you think is the most obvious or the only natural solution or interpretation to an exercise, becomes much more obviously a personal choice when you see someone else making different choices. The series of choices you make define your style. Style is the natural consequence of habit. As you review your collection, you might see some things that you love and that you want to cultivate more of, and you might see some other things that you don't like very much and that you're ready to leave behind. It's all a process, it's all a practice. But I hope from this class, you now know that your personal style isn't something that's out there that you have to go out and find. It's something that you already have. Thank you for taking this class. I hope that you enjoyed yourself and that you continue to cultivate your style and your art and that you have fun in the process.