Do you want to become a better artist? Just like improving your fitness level requires practice and a regular workout routine, improving your artistic skills requires regular exercise as well.
Photo from our Startup Library: Drawing class.
These seven artistic exercises will help you improve dexterity, muscle memory and your overall confidence as an artist. Try one, or try them all, for 30 days and see for yourself the benefits they can offer!
4 quick tips for success
1. Make a commitment.
If you really want to become a better artist, make a commitment to working on these exercises for 30 days. If you think it might be a bit much, build in a few “break” days. After all, it takes a little time and repetition to build habits and to build strength!
2. Have a goal.
Decide what you’d like to gain specifically from these exercises. “Become a better artist” is a great goal of course, but you may find that getting more specific is helpful for you. An example might be “get better at drawing hands” or “learn how to draw animals.”
3. Hold yourself accountable.
Accountability can be a powerful thing. Some easy ways to hold yourself accountable are by posting your progress on social media or keeping a personal log.
4. Have fun!
Remember: This shouldn’t feel too much like homework. It’s a good thing to have fun while developing your artistic skills, because if it feels good, you’ll stick with it.
7 exercises to become a better artist in 30 days
All of these exercises will help you become a better artist if followed loyally for a period of time. I suggest 30 days, but this can vary depending your constitution, amount of time and what feels comfortable. Try your favorite, or tackle multiple exercises!
1. Have a five minute artistic “free time.”
Every day, set a timer for a finite period of time (5 minutes is a great starting point) and just draw or paint. You can doodle, work with hatching or cross hatching, or you can just let your pen, pencil or chosen medium randomly wave over the page.
Believe it or not, having this “free” time to create can have an incredible effect on your finished works. It helps loosen you up mentally and physically and helps build hand-eye coordination.
Yes, by this I mean coloring books. Coloring books for adults are an enduring trend at this point, and with good reason. They chill you out, they’re fun and as a bonus, they make you a better artist.
Even if it’s not your artwork you’re coloring, by spending time working with coloring books, you’ll be improving your hand eye coordination and you’ll learn a lot about space, color combinations and ways to create imagery that will inform and improve your artwork. If you color for a few minutes every day for a month, you will see improvement in your personal art too.
3. Work on the same subject every day.
Remember how I mentioned that it’s good to have a specific goal with your artistic exercises? Be sure to dedicate time to that goal every single day.
For instance, if you want to get better at drawing cartoon characters, spend time each day drawing different faces, expressions and characters. By drawing the same thing day in and day out, you’ll not only get quicker and more effective at drawing your subject, but you’ll also see refinements occur that can really perfect your character. Be sure to label them by day so you can monitor your progress!
Psst: If you are trying to improve your cartoon drawings, check out our guides on how to draw cartoon noses, mouths, eyes and ears!
4. Draw the same subject in different styles.
Say that your goal is to learn how to draw or paint animals. You actually can have a lot of success by creating the same subject in a variety of styles. Along the way, you may discover one approach that feels most authentic to you.
For example, maybe you try to paint an elephant in an impressionist style one day, a cubist style the next, a cartoon style the following. Ultimately, by experimenting with these different styles, you’ll find aspects of each that you want to incorporate in your artwork.
5. Mix up your media.
Think of this exercise as artistic cross-training. Choose a variety of media that feel comfortable to you (say, for instance, pencil, watercolor and acrylic) and work in cycles, practicing one day with each one and then repeating as you go.
Working in a cyclical fashion with media like this can help improve your spatial relationships and help keep your hands steady while creating. Working with each different medium will strengthen your relationship with the others.
6. Work while watching TV
This is an easy exercise to fit in just about any schedule, and it’s incredibly effective at improving your artistic skills.
As you’re chilling out in front of the TV, have your sketch pad and pencil (or other media of your choice) at the ready and make figure studies based on what you’re watching on TV. It could be copying character faces or doing quick life drawings from scenes on screen. Capturing moments like this will increase your dexterity and teach you a lot about movement and expression in art!
7. Follow a different prompt each day.
Before you embark on 30 days of artistic improvement, make a list of 30 different artistic prompts (or use ours!) to tackle every day.
Think outside the box with your prompts: You could devise your own inspired by the tips on this list, or it could be as simple as “paint a character in different situations every day for 30 days.” For even more fun, invite your friends to join your artistic challenge, too!