Lesson 15: Assessing your progress
We’ve come a long way in this course so far. We’ve gone from drawing our hands and learning about basic forms to learning about color theory and finally making our first painting of the four major forms with black and white acrylic paint. . When I say “Learning to paint” this isn’t something that can just be learned with one quick lesson. There aren’t really any tricks or shortcuts. If you want to learn to paint you must dedicate yourself to it, and treat it as a discipline. You will improve with each painting you make. What I’ve outlined in the previous lessons is a foundation which will translate towards painterly thinking.
Upon completing the previous lessons you should now posses a skill set. Think of it as a certain set of skills which you are trying to master. There are analogies that could be made to a variety of other activities which need discipline in order to excel at. I compare painting to music a lot: but in this case I believe the philosophy you should develop towards learning to paint should be closer akin to a student of martial arts. It’s a body and mind duality. Both your dexterity needs to be improved in order to manipulate the brush in a deft manner, but also your mind needs to learn how to stay out of the way and stop naming the things you are drawing or painting. If you really want to learn to paint you can’t just read about it, you need to do it, make mistakes, and then do it over, and over, and over again.
Perhaps you understood how to mix color harmonies very quickly, but are still worried about your drawing skills. These are important factors to consider and if you are truly dedicated to learning to paint then you should begin to address the skills at which you feel the weakest. Below in the Report Card you’ll see a list of skills I’ve tried to teach so far. After each skill I want you to grade yourself on how you are performing at this point. Be honest, no one else will see them. Your weak areas simply need more attention. The problems can be addressed by redoing lessons you don’t feel confident in.
If you want you can print it out and hang it up on your wall to remind yourself what things you want to improve. You should always remember that you are learning a new skill for yourself, and that nothing should stop you from persuing your dreams. If Learning to Paint is a life long dream then it can’t hurt to jump in and try! Personally I feel it is best to show your friends and the world your work immediately (I even have a lesson dedicated to creating a personal blog of your art work), but if this isn’t your style, then so be it. Don’t show anyone your paintings until you are ready to do so, just don’t discount your abilities.
I know this is beginning to sound like some sort of motivational speech. But I include self evaluation as an actual Lesson because it is important to be able to self evaluate if you want to continue to learn how to paint better throughout the years. Learning to paint isn’t about one lesson showing you how to “shade” , it’s the culmination of many lessons and years of work. The next lesson in this course will involve your first real painting where you’ll have your first opportunity to bring everything that we’ve worked on so far into one painting. This is the reason why I want you to take inventory of your current skills before we proceed. We’re still working on basic ideas and techniques but as we begin to combine them things start to get more complicated pretty fast.