Self-paced study program ...by Virgil Elliott
Ngaire Winwood wrote:
What do you think the best schedule for a serious art student should be from scratch? Learn line, shape, form, light, composition, design, perspective, then colour knowledge, then painting simple still lifes graduating to painting models in head/bust compositions, then to full figure/drapery compositions, then landscape?
What is a 5 year schedule for a serious student like myself?
There is no realistic way to pin it down to an X-year schedule, in my
opinion. It takes as long as it takes, and how long that is will vary
from individual to individual. I would say that in general I agree
with Ingres, who said the way to become a master painter was to master drawing. The advice from your friends that the only way to learn to
paint is to paint 500 paintings would only be valid for one who has
already reached an advanced level in drawing. A weak draftsman will be
doomed to being a weak painter no matter how many paintings he paints,
and the only way to go beyond that is to go back to drawing and
master it. Most people start painting too soon, before they are good
enough at drawing, and their deficiencies remain no matter how many
paintings they do or how many years they might paint. I have had more
students with that problem come to me over the years, people of all
ages, and the ones who took my advice and went back to drawing were
the ones who broke through to the next level. The ones who were so
deeply entrenched in their bad habits that they could not bring
themselves to do as I suggested never got much better, and they never
will, no matter how long they keep doing what they're doing.
Here is what I see as the best progression: Draw simple things first,
on white or off-white paper, in line, with pencil, from direct
observation. An egg is a good first subject. Work on getting the shape
correct using line. Move up to an apple, a pear, and other simple
shapes, in small increments of increasing difficulty as you gain the
ability to render your subject accurately with less trouble. Buy and
read Rex Vicat Cole's book, Perspective for Artists, and do all the
exercises until you have a clear and thorough understanding of
geometric perspective. Draw blocks, pyramids, cones, balls, cylinders,
eggs, etc., until you can render them accurately and in correct
perspective. This is a step most people skip over, or put too little
work into before they move on to other subjects. It is a mistake to
give short shrift to the basics.
At some point, introduce shading into the lessons, but not until you
have developed the ability to read and render the exterior contours
correctly with line.
That will get you off to a good start. To answer your question fully
would require me to write a book, and perhaps I will, but not tonight,
as it is late and I need my rest. I'll address the rest of it in
increments from time to time, as my schedule allows, but in the
meantime, I think I've given you enough to keep you busy for a while.
Even if you feel you are already sufficiently advanced to not need to
draw cylinders and cones, etc., it will not hurt you to do it anyway,
and I would bet that you'll get something out of it that will make you
a better artist. Complex shapes can be broken down into combinations
of simpler shapes, so get those down before you tackle greater
challenges. There is a lot more beyond that stage, but you'll have an
easier time of it if you have put enough work into the basics. Draw
every day. A good artist can give you pointers and suggestions looking
at the results of your exercises, and that will help. The internet can
expand the possibilities in that regard, if you can send image files
to people for critiques.