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Honing the painting process

Process is what separates the amateur artists from the professional artists. You’ll see a professional artist with an excellent process. It will look fluid and easy reproducible.

But the question is – how did they get to that point? And how long will it take?

Just paint. You learn by doing.

This picture may look funny to you. But it’s after years of honing the painting process. And note, it’s not just years. It’s actually hours. Someone who spends one hour a week painting for ten years will look like an amateur next to someone who paints five hours a day five days a week for only two years.

Do the math. You’ll see how much more the second artist paints than the first artist.

honing the painting process
A new Speaker Girls painting in progress

I’ve written before on how I get skin tones in watercolors. Well, here’s a perfect example of my process in action. I paint seven total layers. The fifth one always looks the funniest because this is where I add the darker tones.

Once the seventh layer is down, it will all make sense. And it will look fantastic.

This is the thing though. If you want to build a painting process, you need to paint.

You could study textbooks. You can watch videos on painting. You could read every blog post on the planet on how to paint. But your painting is going to look like shit until you actually start painting a lot.

This is a serious problem with smart people. Smart people think too much. Too many smart people try to overthink anything.

Then some average guy comes along and passes them up because Mr. Average was busy doing.

You learn by doing

Action matters. Sure, it’s nice to read up on the right way to do it. But to really know the right way? You got to actually do it.

I’ve made several huge changes since I started painting. I developed the skin tone process by complete accident. I was trying to copy someone else and found that I couldn’t stand the way they did it when I actually tried to execute it. Sure, theirs looked fantastic. But when I tried to copy their methods, my pinup girls ended up looking like zombies, not hot chicks.

So I developed my own method.

The second major change – I originally used pencil. But pencil doesn’t look as cool as ink. Now, I take inking my watercolors very seriously. I think nothing looks quite like ink. I like how it makes my pinup girls pop.

Now, I’m only using my own methods as an example. Note that I’ve changed. I’ve tried out different things until I found out what works better for me.

You’ll end up doing the same. Just keep painting. The more you paint, the more you’ll hone your process. And the better your process will get.

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