This post is by guest author, Dan Johnson. This article has been edited and published with the author's permission. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here. This author's views are entirely his own and may not always reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.
"The beginning is the most important part of the work" - Plato
I've been painting in my spare time for around 8 years now, and still I regularly experience frustration whenever I get to a certain stage and find there is something not looking quite right, but I can't put my finger on the problem.
Usually what has happened is that I've got some fundamental proportion or measurement wrong in the early stages of the painting, but it's only revealed itself to me after I've added a lot of detail, by which time it would take a lot of work to correct the problem.
I didn't spend the time early on laying a strong foundation, and so when I get to the later stages, the painting falls apart and I have to start again.
The interesting thing is that this principle can also be applied to the study and practice of art itself. The reason I often have trouble with painting is that I haven't mastered the basic drawing skills of proportion, measurement and value. I don't have the foundational skills mastered, so the more advanced practices suffer as a result.
It is for this reason that I have recently enrolled in an online classical art atelier to study classical drawing and painting. When I emailed the course instructor, I told him that I wanted to learn how to paint properly, and what he told me was that painting technique probably isn't the main issue, and that I should first focus on learning the fundamentals of drawing, and then the transition to painting will be a piece of cake.
So I'm currently working on my first drawing assignment, and guess what, I'm spending a LOT of time on the initial block-in, which involves checking measurements and proportions to make sure the drawing has a strong foundation before I add any detail.
At the same time, I'm going to be spending the next few weeks and months practicing these fundamental drawing techniques, so that when I finally come to learning how to paint properly, I will have a solid foundation of drawing skills to build upon.
So if you find yourself struggling with a painting, step back and ask yourself if your foundation skills are strong enough, or if you need to go back and work on your drawing technique in order to improve your painting.