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How To Do Studies

When you're beginning your creative career, you want to get gud - real fast..


So you look around and see all of these experts doing 'studies' - pumping out smaller, rougher works based around an idea, another artist, subject matter or medium....


You think great! Let me get started then...


And then you begin and slowley loose interest - you understand why you need to draw models hundreds of times if you want to be a figurative painter but the process of looking at reference on the internet and working from it is only interesting the first couple of times - it eventually wears out, leaving you frustrated and making the whole process of getting better something you vehemently want to avoid...


This is how I used to do studies. Before I understood their actual purpose. It sounds very simple, but I really think ths is the difference between those who fail and those who succeed in visual arts...


To do studies properly, they must be towards something, aimed and directed at another, fuller work you are getting practice towards...


And there's that word, practice. Many of us think that's what studies are for - and this is true, no doubt, but it's a specific kind of practice. When you do a study properly, you don't think first of the practice of it, you think of it's purpose - what you are seeking to understand or solve through doing it (unlike how many students are taught to do it). The word study doesn't even come into it...


You have a problem; you don't know how to draw human heads, well okay, you think, I have to understand more about heads in general and I need to grasp them mentally in my mind so I can paint them anytime I want - the way you think these problems through to a solution is via drawing and painting, visually...


The fact that it is called a study to me is slightly errenous - yes you are getting better and leveling up your skills, but this is not a rote task like studying a textbook, it is robust, dynamic problem solving, a journey of self analysing and improvement...


It's really more akin to an experiment - you have a hypothesis; does me putting this line here denote a change in light? And then you have the results, either yes or no.. and you continue....


Art studies are not silent, dry experiences - they are a participatory act, one between the artist and their chosen subject through their chosen medium.


Next time, don't do a study - solve a problem you have instead!