Here are the assumptions. There are more people who want to be artists than there are artists, there are more people actively painting, sculpting and drawing than there are people making a living off of painting, sculpting, and drawing. The people who are making a living painting, sculpting and drawing probably have some talent, exceptional practice, exceptional training, and exceptional circumstances. For those of us who do not have these exceptional things, our greatest need is intentional practice. Thankfully there are now several online options for helping with this, but for my part, in this series of posts, I am going to mention some things that I practice to move my abilities forward. First, a caveat for the young.
Choosing not to attend a dedicated art school when you want to be an artist is a mistake. The reasons for this are simple. To become a successful artist you need several thousands of hours of practice, you need knowledge and you need networking. In my experience, the artist with those three benefits tends to do better in the marketplace. A decent school or atelier can provide the start you need. Obviously, there are always exceptions, but the exceptions have usually traveled a tougher road and they are almost alway's extremely self-motivated and disciplined.
Practice #1: A Sketchbook
For 30 years I heard artists and art teachers refer to the benefits of regularly working through ideas and problems in a sketchbook. My lazy brain would reason that if I were going to take the time to work on a piece of art, it needed to be art that could be finished and potentially sold. My lazy brain is stupid. I've spent many more hours sketching this year than painting. I won't go into all that I have been learning but I can tell you I am mourning the loss of the last thirty years.
At present, my goal is to do 20 to 100 figures a day in either pencil, ink or ballpoint. If this is new to you check out this Steve Houston videos or his book first. I saw pretty decent improvement after just a week of doing this.