The 15 Minute Art Student

What can you do in 15 minutes? Eat a bowl of cereal? Walk the dog? Go through your mail? Can’t do much though right? It’s interesting that we tend to look at time a bit differently than other things. Take money for example or a pile of dirt. Hold on, dirt? What?… bear with me here. To buy a house or a car most of us have to save a little each month or get a loan and pay it back a little each month. Likewise, moving a pile of dirt is done one shovel full at a time unless we own a bulldozer or have some sort of super power.

Granted, we look for large-ish uninterrupted blocks of time for many things by necessity: movies, road trips, concerts, shopping, etc. But is it always necessary with art? Why don’t we try more often to learn some of our artistic skills in smaller bites. I confess. I over look the potential of this concept all the time. It can be powerful.

Einstein said,

“Anyone can be a genius, if they pick just one specific subject and study it diligently just 15 minutes each day.”

I know, you’re saying, “wait a minute Steve, drawings or paintings can take hours or even weeks.” They certainly can, but thats not what we’re talking about here. Forget about completing a finished work of art. The art world is chock full of artists trying to run without learning to walk. Focus instead on mastering a skill, or sub skill or sub, sub skill. You get my point. I think you’d agree there are many art skills worth mastering. Can any of them be studied, practiced and mastered in roughly 15 minutes a day? Absolutely!

Consider two key ideas from Einstein’s statement, “daily” and “specific”. Determine what you’d like to master then what steps or specific skills are needed to do that. The more specific the better. Then do it a little bit each day. If not daily then often.

Still not sure what I mean? Here are some examples. From these come up with some of your own. The point is, take a general goal and break it down to its specifics until you have skills you can practice in a short amount of time.

– Don’t practice drawing and painting the human figure, practice just the head or just the overall shape of the skull or planes of the head or sketching the nose, eye or ear. Practice 1 minute then 5 minute gestural figure drawings or even just diagraming correct figure proportions in stick form. Don’t have a good handle on how to determine proportions? Take 15 minutes to research a method or two for seeing and measuring them.

– Don’t practice painting landscapes, paint or draw a tree, or a tree branch or a foliage canopy. Draw a rock or a patch of grass. Paint a simple sky. Do a landscape thumbnail or three.

– Practice watercolor water control. Work on painting any value from darkest to lightest and getting the correct water and paint ratio on demand. Practice blends until you can do them in your sleep.

Other ideas could include things like:

  • Shading simple shapes
  • Rotating a box in 3d perspective
  • Researching a term or technique you’re not familiar with like core shadows or painting in dry brush.
  • Creating various values with ink or line hatching
  • Improving your large gradient washes
  • Studying scale in landscape
  • Analyzing a composition
  • Rendering cloth folds
  • Finding a color’s complement.
  • Tracing a subject to study its proportions
  • Prepping for your next 15 minute session

Drill down into your skillset until you get to the foundational weaknesses you need to work on most. Don’t forget, its 15 minutes (or so) we’re talking about. But don’t step over those minutes looking for hours. I’ll warn you though, there is often a time-warp side effect. The more you learn and discover the more you want to. Don’t be surprised if on occasion 15 minutes turns into an hour…or two.

Are We There Yet Mommy?

When did it happen? When did we grow past our childish impatience to sit in a car for an eternity, just to arrive at an exciting destination? When did that excruciating wait time turn into a more mature appreciation of the journey itself and give rise to the delightful exclamation, “road trip!”? It certainly changed for me and I find that interesting because my patience for creating art did exactly the same thing and in very similar ways. Ok, so the analogy isn’t perfect. Nobody wants to travel all the time. I guess the joy in a “road trip” for me is a break in routine, a change of pace, fresh sights and sounds. So the analogy breaks down a bit. In one way, however, the analogy fits perfectly, the maturity to enjoy the entire journey, not just the destination. For a moment let’s contemplate our mental approach to that journey that is our artistic development.

Read More »

Should you Adopt the Mindset of a Professional Artist?

Well, in my not-so-humble opinion, YES! But what exactly do I mean?

What I’m NOT talking about is quitting your current job, doing nothing but art and trying to get paid for it. I realize a lot of my YouTube audience and by extension, blog readers here, are leisure time artists just trying to enjoy themselves with art, produce some satisfactory results and perhaps improve.

So, that last one, improving, THATS what I’m talking about here and this is where a professional mindset will help you regardless of whether you aspire to reach a professional level or not. Even more specifically, lets deal with one important way to facilitate improvement and that’s problem solving.

Read More »

The Perfect Sketchbook Debuts! AGAIN!

The newest iteration of THE PERFECT SKETCHBOOK will be debuting soon. Go check out Etchr Lab’s post and the interview in which yours truly took part. I’ve been privileged to have experienced Erwin Lian’s original Sketchbooks, and I’m thrilled that Etchr has picked up the brand and design with Erwin’s oversight and blessing of course.  […]

Digital Detour. Sort Of…

… Its really more of a frequently enjoyed side trip as I travel along the path that defines my art journey. Digital illustration was such a huge part of my professional life for years. I spent hundreds of hours in front of a computer monitor working in Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator primarily on client art, so its still in my blood. A drawing tablet was essential to that work. The need for digital art is not as essential these days and I’m totally loving a re-focus on natural media, especially watercolor but I still love digital and all the tech associated with it. It’s a useful and versatile tool for visualization and study when applied to natural media like drawing or painting.

If you’re a digital artist too or have been one in the past, I would love to hear your war stories. And how do you mix or use digital in concert with natural media?

I’ve pulled all nighters doing client work on a Wacom tablet. I would have loved to have been able to work on a pen display like this back then.

The Huion Kamvas Pro 22 (2019)

Clouds and Notifications

Hey YouTube, If its Broke Why Not Fix It!

The YouTube Notification Bell (next to the subscribe bar) is, when clicked, supposed to give you a notification for every video that particular YouTube channel releases. SUPPOSED TO! If you haven’t clicked the one on my channel and you want notice of all my videos you should go ahead and click it and it may work for you. We all want more notifications on our devices don’t we? (wait don’t answer that) Problem is it’s not always working according to several reports. As a result I also post every video on my Facebook Page. Those get posted about a week later, but if you’re on Facebook much it’s another way to see and be notified of new videos. My Patrons on Patreon also get a posting there with notification of every video and get to see each video 24 hours before everyone else. If you’re interested in supporting my channel on a monthly basis for as little as $1 a month you can CLICK HERE and sign up.

Clouds and More Clouds

To kick things off, here is my latest episode on creating simple and easy clouds, PLUS, it’s part of a new playlist on clouds incase you haven’t seen all 6. The 6th one in this playlist is actually a landscape and a review of Stonehenge Aqua paper, but I spend a little time demonstrating a stormy spring sky. Enjoy, and we’ll talk to everyone in the next post.

Check out my Amazon affiliate page of recommended art supplies

And welcome new Affiliate, The Brush Guys! Use the code Minder5 at checkout for a 5% discount and you’ll also be supporting my channel through your purchase.

The Craft of Art

It’s interesting and a little mind blowing when you consider all the definitions and opinions of what constitutes good art. It’s also no exaggeration to say you won’t find one official standard or majority opinion. Elvis on black velvet is art to one person while “Water Lillies” by Claude Monet another. Ok, bad example, maybe there is a majority opinion on that one, but hopefully you get my point. Good art means different things to different people. An artist will likewise grapple with the concept of what makes their own work more artistic. What should an artist strive for to become a more creatively artistic artist?

WARNING: what I’m about to express now is opinion. Furthermore its MY opinion and will not be shared by all. GASP! I know right. But you think about it and decide for yourself.

Read More »