If you’re practicing making art on a regular basis, then it can be very easy to lose track of time and/or to feel like you aren’t progressing. After all, when you’re practicing regularly, you’ll rarely see day-to-day improvements or even have a clue how good your art might be in the future if you keep practicing.
So, I thought that I’d give you a few tips about how to chart both your past and future artistic progress.
1) Regular remakes: One of the easiest ways to chart your past artistic progress is to choose one significant painting or drawing (either due to it’s quality or when it was made) and to make a new version of it every year or so.
Like this little gallery of all of the versions of the first picture I made when I decided to practice making art regularly. I’ve posted one of these online on the 17th April every year since I started getting into art again (and, yes, the gallery contains a preview of this year’s one):
Even if you’re having a bad day when you make the new version of this picture, then it will probably still look better than the old versions for the simple reason that you’ve had an extra year of experience and knowledge. This, incidentally, will also show you what you’ve learnt and how your art style has changed over the past few years.
This is extra noticeable if you, say, remake a picture once every two years or so. The only problem with this approach is that, when you see how terrible your old pictures look when compared to your new ones – you might be worried that your new painting won’t look good in the future. It won’t, but this won’t matter, because you’ll be an even better artist!
2) The art that inspires you: One easy way to see what your art might look like in the future (if you keep practicing) is to take a look at the things that really inspire you. If you aren’t sure what these are, then either take a look at your own art and see if it’s been influenced by anything or just ask yourself “what types of art, movies, comics etc.. do I think are really cool 🙂”
Generally, if you see something cool, then it’s probably going to have an effect on your art. You’re probably going to try to learn from it, or use similar techniques in your own art. It’s probably going to shape what you choose to learn and what you choose to practice.
As such, it can be a great way to get a sneak peek at parts of your artistic future and/or a way to consciously shape that future.
3) Intervals: If you’re making drawings or paintings regularly, then it can be very easy to feel like it’s one long, endless, continuous thing. This can get fairly dispiriting and it can reduce any sense of progression or accomplishment you might feel. So, split your practice up into longer segments that can be “finished” at similar intervals.
If you’re making art traditionally, then this is fairly easy to do. After all, if you fill one or two sketchbook pages with art every day then – for example- you’re going to get through a 48-page sketchbook in about a month or so. You’ll have a completed sketchbook, which you can mark with the time and date that you finished it.
If you’re making or editing art digitally, then doing something similar can be a bit more complicated – but you can do things like putting time and date information in the file names of your artwork (eg: with mine, I usually put the date it’ll be posted here in the file name) , starting a new art folder every month etc…
If you split your collection of practice artwork up into time-based segments, then this will help you to avoid the feeling of just adding to a continuous, never-ending collection of art.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂