The Importance of PracticeEvery art teacher I've known has emphasized the importance of practice - a daily routine that incorporates drawing from life and developing an intense familiarity with both subject and medium. Naturally, the great masters of art have something to say on the matter:
Cennini: 'Do not fail, as you go on, to draw something every day, for no matter how little it is, it will be well worthwhile, and it will do you a world of good.'
Camille Pissaro: 'It is only by drawing often, drawing everything, drawing incessantly, that one fine day you discover to your surprise that you have rendered something in its true character./
John Singer Sargent: 'You can't do sketches enough. Sketch everything and keep your curiosity fresh.'
Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres: 'Drawing is the honesty of art. To draw does not mean simply to reproduce contours: drawing does not consist merely of line. Drawing is also expression, the inner form, the plane and modeling. See what remains after that. Drawing includes three and a half quarters of the content of painting.'
We've all heard that it takes a ten thousand hours to become an expert. When you are starting out, it seems like an awful lot. But a little each day and those hours soon accrue. You've seen the internet memes about champions who begin their careers losing every race, writers who can't get published and cartoonists told they have no imagination. On this subject, I believe the last word goes to...
Cicero: Assiduus usus uni rei deditus et ingenium et artem saepe vincit. or - 'Constant practice devoted to one subject often outdoes both intelligence and skill.'
Drawing for PaintersWhile it isn't critical that you draw in order to paint... actually, no, what am I saying. Painters should draw. Drawing is about seeing and directly making marks, and realistically, you need to draw. Not finely detailed photorealist renderings in graphite - not that kind of drawing - but the drawing that is about taking a fresh, direct look at your subject and exploring its form, structure and perspective with line. Even abstract artists draw. Sometimes people draw with paint. But they are still drawing. Look, plenty of old mastes agree with me:
Paul Cézanne: 'Drawing and color are not separate at all; in so far as you paint, you draw. The more color harmonizes, the more exact the drawing becomes. When the color achieves richness, the form attains its fullness also.'
Ingres: 'To draw does not simply mean to reproduce contours; the drawing does not simply consist in the idea: the drawing is even the expression, the interior form, the plan, the model. Look what remains after that! The drawing is three fourths and a half of what constitutes painting. If I had to put a sign over my door [to the atelier], I would write: School of drawing, and I’m certain that I would create painters.' - source
Frederick Franck from The Zen of Seeing: 'I have learned that what I have not drawn I have never really seen, and that when I start drawing an ordinary thing, I realize how extraordinary it is, sheer miracle.'
Hans Hofmann: 'A work of art goes through many phases of development, but in each phase it is always a work of art. (Therein lies the importance of sketches.) A work of art is finished, from the point of view of the artist, when feeling and perception have resulted in a spiritual synthesis.' from Theories of Modern Art
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