Why some artists paint for so long but shown only a little improvement?


 People often seem surprise when I told them I start doing watercolor for about 2 years. I then quickly explain what I did before I start doing watercolor. They understand a bit more, but still seems to be surprised. On the other hand, I've seen some paintings done by artists who been painting for many more years but finding things fundamentally wrong with them.

 I fully understand art is subjective, each artist has different style and emotion. But when there are things fundamentally wrong in a painting, it hinders the message to get across and distract viewers from enjoying the art. I can't emphasize enough the important of core fundamental. If one willing to work hard and learn the fundamental, he/she will be able to master the painting skill very fast.

 Some people want to skip fundamental learning and practice because it is boring. And I agree, it's a chore and it's not fun. It is not something you can be creative about. Take the above drawing for example. I did it back in 2013 as an exercise to study a bee. I first draw everything in perspective and analyze the form into polygon structures. I then draw on top of it and render it. I won't consider it an artwork because it is more of an exercise. But this allow me to study the form, the proportion and how to draw things properly. If you switch the subject from a bee to a bird, or a building, I will be able to do the same. I mentioned before that I've done 500 head drawings in one of my art college class. It's worth noticing that they are not finish artwork, but just study of human head similar to the bee drawing above.

 If you skip the fundamental drawing skill and go straight to learning painting. What you're trying to do is to build a house without establish a foundation. You are trying to learn how to use a table saw without knowing what to construct. You can still be good at painting by doing the same thing for years, but what you're trying to do is to learn through muscle memory instead of real understanding of the real world. In other words- it's not about how long you have been painting, it's about how you were trained. If you were trained well in your core fundamental skill, no matter what medium you use (oil, acrylic, watercolor, or even digital), you will be able to achieve good result after you are familiar with the medium. After all, they are just tools, they can not achieve anything by themselves unless you know what to do with them.

 This year I am planning to release online courses. Part of the course will be covering the fundamental drawings. This is something that watercolor workshops never covers. Because workshop is too short to cover something like this, and most people will find it boring and uninterested. But I believe it is the most important aspect of a painting. And that's something many students, or even some artist who has been painting for a while, lacks.

It's not about how long you have been painting,
it's about how you were trained.