Practice for a week, create for a week

This is for people like me—artists that just want to create imaginative things, but know they need to practice and train more.

I just want to make cool artwork that’s fun to look upon, but since I’m constantly stifled by how to draw the correct angles of faces or building perspectives, I have to instead draw something that I know. It’s saddening.

To draw the bits in my imagination that I don’t have experience with, I’ll have to practice. I picked up a “work” strategy from the hosts over at the Sparkline.

I think this strategy may motivate me to get more done than any other I’ve tried. It’s made up of alternating weeks of two different modes of art creation.

Spend a week practicingthe must do stuff. Spend a week creatingthe fun stuff. Repeat.

For example:

Week of practice

  • learn or practice fundamental skills
  • study still life, draw from reference
  • copy other artists’ work

Week of creating

  • put your imagination on the canvas
  • let the previous week of practice affect your creation

Here’s results and opinions of my first 3 1/2 weeks of this strategy. Spoiler alert: I like it!

In my first week (practice):

Spent time at the bar in my kitchen and sketched what I saw in front of me.

Found some hand pose images on the internet and copied them.

In my second week (create):

I did a layout for a scene.

Here comes the opinionated side note part:

In the next week of creative work I’ll start back on this, but before I get to I have to practice for another week. It’s like I’m earning the week of creative work. Looking ahead to new weeks, I think it will be an incentive to get the creative work done quickly so that I don’t have to wait 7 days to get back to it.

If there is an aspect of a drawing that I want to improve upon, then I get to do that during the next practice week. I’ll be able to spot a weakness while creating and then work on improving that the following practice week.

In my third week (practice):

Based on the scene that I setup last week, I decided to practice hands tying ribbons.


In my fourth week (create):

Back to the scene I began making 2 weeks ago.

I am currently in this week as I finish off this article. The painting below will get finished this weekend (7/13/14) and make its way hereUpdate: Life and laziness stood in my way. I did not finish on 7/13/14. I’m forgoing my practice week until I finish this piece. Afterwards, I’ll continue.

Keep On

This work strategy feels like a keeper. It has structure. It has incentive.

The practice week didn’t feel like a chore or an assignment. To use a commerce metaphor, it —the practice part—felt like a fair price to pay for a week of fun—the creative part.

I’ll continue this strategy until I feel otherwise. Come back later and be a judge.