There’s a fine line between being finished with a piece of art, and having gone too far into the world of overkill. I have drawn myself right into a ditch at times, knowing I should’ve quit while I was ahead. But unless you have a lot of experience, chances are you’re not going far enough.
An artist is continuously growing and changing. Few of the pieces I created 20 years ago will now satisfy me. I’ve learned new ways of doing things, and acquired more skill. It isn’t unheard of for me to take something off the wall, strip it of its frame, and rework the entire piece. My current skills have exceeded my ability previous. It makes me squeamish to look at some of the older work, knowing it can be better. I simply must add to it!
However, some artworks from days gone by still look good to me, perhaps since they were more simple in their overall design. Those I leave alone.
Often, my students will love a piece I’m working on and, because they’re still learning, they actually think it’s finished. I may have quit at that point in the drawing as well, just a few years back. Look at the example of the pears (above). When teaching my acrylic class a few weeks ago, some of my students thought the pear on the right looked good just as it was. It wasn’t until I added more details to the one on the left that they realized how much further I could go. Push it a bit for more realism when you’re working. Force yourself to see more in your reference, and try another layer to capture the subtleties for better form and realism.
You can see from the examples shown of the forest scene that to take the realism further, each step is important. Look at the third example. Many of my students thought this example was complete. I posted it on Facebook this way, and many of my friends were shocked when I said it wasn’t entirely finished. You can see by the finished example in step four that I did have a long way to go, but only I knew it!
It’s always a great feeling to be proud of your work and satisfied with your results. But I encourage you to push yourself a bit, and see if you can’t go a bit further with your project. Don’t get too comfortable with your skill level because you can always grow. (Tweet this!) The only time you will quit learning and growing is when you actually stop breathing.
I never thought that getting older would be a good thing, but as an artist, it gives me the history of my own work. Through the passing of time I can see my own artistic growth and the increase in my skills. I see things much more in-depth now, with much greater detail. I’m no longer satisfied with simplicity. In fact, the older I get, the bigger and more detailed my pieces seem to get. It’ll be interesting to see how my work continues to change and evolve in the years to come. Who knows how much more detail I will capture, and how big my pieces may end up? I may need to get myself a warehouse!
Edited by Cherie Haas, online editor of ArtistsNetwork.com
Lee Hammond has been called the Queen of Drawing. That may not be fair these days, since in addition to providing the best drawing lessons, she has also created fantastic books and videos filled with the same easy to follow acrylic painting techniques, colored pencil techniques and more. Click here to see all of the instructional books and DVDs that Lee Hammond has to offer!
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