In this day and age, we can find almost any information we want to online, which has led to a lot of people sharing art advice for their fellow artists.
And with so many different kinds of advice being given out, it’s impossible to follow all of it. So here’s some of the art advice that I don’t follow, at the time of writing this.
I’m not here to say whether or not this advice is good or bad, it’s just advice I don’t follow. Some of it, actually most of it, I probably should follow, I just haven’t bothered to go through with them.
With that disclaimer out of the way, here are eight pieces of art advice that I don’t follow:
1. Don’t compare your work to other artists’ work.
I’ve heard this piece of advice being shared by artists since I started sharing art and looking at art online. And while I can understand where this advice is coming from, I don’t follow it.
This advice tends to come from a viewpoint of “If you compare yourself to other artists you will become discouraged or jealous, and you won’t learn anything from it.”
As someone who has a tendency to be analytical, I disagree. When I find an artist that I admire and want to emulate, I will often take some time to compare their work to my own, to see where I can find the differences.
Doing so helps me learn what I can improve in my art, and helps me recognize what I like about my own art already. It also helps me see what their mistakes are, and if they’re actually mistakes, or stylistic choices.
I use comparison is a learning tool, and I think that it’s okay for others to do so as well.
2. Always use high quality materials.
Sorry 50 cent pencil that I got at the dollar store, I’m not finished with you, or your siblings yet. Your eraser may be garbage at erasing, but as long as you still have lead left, I will keep using you.
Also, since your eraser is garbage, I’m using a cheap eraser I bought at a back to school sale about five years ago.
Hope you don’t mind, but cheap, low quality supplies help keep me loose when working on art. When I sketch I prefer to use materials that I feel comfortable ‘wasting’ on mistakes and experiments.
If I use higher quality materials I get stressed out about using them, which makes my art stiffer, and overall, less skillful.
While I still use high quality materials for my more finished illustrations, or my more detailed sketches, when it comes to staying fast and loose, cheap pencils and old erasers are the way for me.
3. Work big and make things expansive.
I have difficulty working big, and making my sketches take up the entire page. Maybe it’s because I’m a really small person (literally) and I tend to use art as a way to represent myself. Maybe it’s because it’s just easier and quicker for me to do small sketches and doodles.
Either way, I tend to prefer to stay small when it comes to making sketches, only really going large and filling the canvas when I do digital art (and have the power to easily resize things).
One of the reasons I’ve heard for working large when creating art is that your mistakes become larger, thus making them more noticeable (which could, hypothetically, make them easier to fix).
Maybe I should give larger sketches a try, but for now I’m happy with my small sketches.
4. Draw every day.
While I don’t currently follow this advice, I am trying to get into it.
It’s easier for me now than it was even six months ago, but it’s because six months ago I wasn’t accustomed to speed sketching, or even drawing very regularly.
Now I only tend to work on art, I’d say about four days a week, but I do other things to try and keep my drawing streak going.
In my bullet journal (in which I have daily spreads) I keep a section on each day for what I call ‘daily doodles’, which I’ve been keeping up with for about a week and a half. I use my daily doodles to just quickly do anything I want artistically, and it’s a stress free (and expectation free) place for me to do art.
I’ve also been working on art assignments multiple days a week, for my art course, and I’ve been trying to share art online more consistently. Right now I’m trying to post art on Instagram once every day, but I miss a few days here and there.
5. Use a large value range.
Contrast is something that I struggle with, and have struggled with for a really long time. When I’m working on a piece in the moment, I tend to think that the contrast looks fine, but then when I finish and come back to it in a few days, I find that it looks a bit washed out.
I have this problem because I tend to favor very soft and diffuse lighting, even when I aim for something more contrast-y.
I am working on improving this problem that I have, but it’s one of those problems that will probably be ironed out slowly, over a long period of time.
6. Flip your canvas, or turn your image upside down.
This is advice that I probably should be following, I just forget to do it.
When working on art, flipping your canvas ( or using a mirror if you do traditional art) can help you see asymmetries and proportion issues in your art. But I have a tendency to forget this advice when working in the moment.
Maybe I should write this advice down on a post-it note and stick it to my monitor?
7. Avoid smudging your art.
Again, this is art advice that I should be following, I just forget to.
As a leftie, I have a tendency to smudge pencils a lot when drawing. While I try my best to work from the bottom right corner to the top left of my paper, in order to minimize smudging, I still have a problem with getting some graphite smudges on my hand, which then end up ‘stamping’ the rest of my paper as I continue filling it out.
So while my pencil lines themselves don’t get very soft and smudged, I often end up with an assortment of soft graphite marks on my paper, creating a very messy look to what would otherwise be a clean background.
8. Do art warm ups.
Doing art warm ups is possibly a controversial piece of advice. I’ve seen artists recommend doing it, I’ve seen others say not to do it, and lots of people seem indifferent.
I’m rather indifferent to doing art warm ups, and but I lean slightly more towards the side of ‘art warm ups are good’. The reason why I don’t do warm ups, is partially because I forget to, partially because I find the switch from warm ups to dedicated art work distracting.
I guess it depends on what I’m doing with my art, but sometimes warm ups work for me, and other times they don’t. I probably just need to experiment more, and find art warm ups that consistently help me get into a productive and creative mindset.
What’s some art advice that you don’t follow? Maybe we have some in common. Let me know in a comment, or you could leave a like on this post. If you enjoyed this post, try sharing it with someone else who’d enjoy it.
I blog about art every Friday, and I have an art course that I update every Sunday, so stick around if you want to see more content.