Updated: Oct 9, 2020
I have been on this artistic journey for the past couple of years now. Along the way I have had several teachers that have had a profound impact on me and my art. There are the instructors whom I have paid to take classes from who have given me one-on-one coaching, helping me hone my skills. There are my artistic friends who give me great feedback. There are people I follow on social media from whom I am able to pick up tips or tricks from their videos. All in all I am constantly learning from so many different people, all of which are helping shape and guide me on my path.
There is one teacher though that stands out the most and has had the biggest affect on me. That teacher, my own bad art - yeah my ugliest stuff has been the biggest reality check to put me in my place and make me work harder. Don't get me wrong the classes I have paid for and the professional teachers all have had a huge impact but learning to be able to judge my own work and recognize where it needs improvement or just a tweak here or there has really propelled me on my art path.
As you may or may not know about me, I truly enjoy drawing faces. I cannot tell you why I like it but I find the whole process really rewarding. Taking an idea from my head and putting it on paper is very enjoyable. I like taking a human face and morphing it into a fictional character, like an elf or a fairy. This all started when I got a story idea and I felt like I just had to draw this character to bring it to life. Mind you I have no formal instruction in drawing faces, so what made me think I could just sit down and do it - I have no idea. The urge was so strong though that I finally sat down with paper and pencil and I drew a face. When I was done I was happy I actually did it. I knew it didnt look amazing, but I did it.
It was not a masterpiece. Don't get me wrong, but the face I drew had two eyes, a nose and a mouth. But the eyes were too big and one eye was higher than the other and her head was shaped like a jellybean. Even though it was a very warped face, I was proud I drew it and I was happy I completed the first one, because that meant to me I could only get better. I also realized the process was not as bad as it seemed. I can really do this. I knew at the time I needed to work at this but I was excited to have started this journey and was ready to work through the issues I would encounter.
I knew there were problems with the faces I was drawing and to address these problems I was going to have to practice more. That's when I set a goal and started drawing a face everyday for a couple of months. I stuck pretty close to that goal. I found practicing every day really helped me to work on proportions, something that I really needed work out. I would spend more time on eyes for a week of practice to get better at that. Then I would work on hair for another week to get better at that. After all of that practice I never got better with the wonky looking head shapes I was creating.
The danger of undirected practice is that you run the risk of practicing bad habits. I developed a big one - wonky head shapes. Looking at all of my practice work together one day I noticed the bad head shapes were not getting better. I had to seek out professional help. I researched and read several books on the subject. That changed everything for me I learned better techniques to incorporate in my practice routine.
My bad first face kick started me to work hard to get better. My bad art taught me a lot about myself. First, I learned no matter where we start you can get better. I learned that consistent practice will keep my skills sharp. Most importantly, realizing when you are practicing bad habits--correcting them quickly matters!
I am very thankful for all of the people who have influenced my artistic journey. Every six months or so I look back to the first face I drew and thank her the most for helping me build my confidence. Every time I look back at this picture I am happy to see how far I have come. I am also excited to see where this journey will take me next.