Two Simple Questions That Will Tell You How Much You Know About Making Art

2015 Artwork Two questions knowledge article sketch

Although I’ve already talked about other ways to measure your level of artistic knowledge, I remembered yet another way to do it a while before I wrote this article.

The method I’m going to describe works best if you’ve already had a reasonable amount of artistic practice and aren’t a complete beginner.

Whilst it will still work if you’re new to making art, I wouldn’t recommend using it because it’ll probably just make you feel discouraged more than anything else. And, if you’re new to making art, discouragement is probably the last thing that you would want to feel.

So, what do you do?

Just take a look at something near you and ask yourself these two questions:

1)Could I (honestly) draw or paint this thing realistically?

2)… And HOW would I draw or paint it?

As long as you’re honest with yourself, the answers to these questions might surprise you. But, it’s important that you ask yourself both of these questions.

The first question is useful because, as you might have guessed, it gives you a pretty clear idea of what you can and can’t draw. But don’t feel discouraged if you realise that you can’t draw or paint something – all this means is that you’ve still got more to learn and that you will have to think a bit harder about the second question.

And, yes, even if you’ve had a couple of years of practice, you can still find yourself in situations when you suddenly realise “I have no idea whatsoever how to paint this thing“.

The last time that this happened to me was actually a few hours before I wrote this article, when I saw a star-shaped glass bowl and suddenly realised that I still needed to learn a lot about drawing and painting glass realistically. Seriously, this was my best attempt at sketching it:

Well, it looked a lot better in real life.

Well, it looked a lot better in real life.

So, yes, even if you’ve been making art for years, there are probably still things that you don’t know how to draw or paint.

The second question (“…And how would I draw or paint it?“) is probably the most important part of this exercise because, if your answer to the first question was “yes”, then your answer to the second question will be nothing more than a reassuring reminder of everything that you already know.

But, if your answer to the first question was “no”, then this is where it really gets interesting. After all, the only real way to learn how to draw or paint something new is to look at it very carefully and try to work it out for yourself.

If you’re not sure how to do this, then this article might come in handy.

Anyway, if you’ve already had quite a bit of artistic experience (and you know how to look at things in the right way), then there’s a good chance that you will eventually work out how to draw or paint the thing that you were looking at. And, well, this also means that you’ll have learnt something.

So, don’t be afraid to ask yourself these two questions every now and then.


Sorry for the short article, but I hope that it was useful 🙂

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