overwhelmed- any advice?



  • soo I have been trying to get better at drawing for a while now and am finding it a challenge to know where to focus since basically, I need to improve everything. My progress has been very slow and I am thinking I need some sort of structured approach to the process. I started with the How to Draw Everything course but am not sure how to structure my days around learning. should I relentlessly repeat a set of exercises everyday for a month and then move on to another set? or should i structure my time by mixing it up - so my day would consist of doing some exercises and then doing master studies then trying to do my own things. feel as if I keep floating around getting easily distracted by all the things I need to learn. (if that makes sense) Do you have a learning path/daily structure that works for you and helps you improve?any help/advice you guys can offer would be appreciated!



  • Its really easy to get overwhelmed with everything there is to learn. I've found the best thing for me has been to consider which aspect of art (by which I mean the fundamentals) I'm weakest at and to do a course and/or read a book on the subject and then try to implement what I learn into my work. Then just keep repeating this process and eventually you'll get to a point where you have a solid understanding of the fundamentals and are able to apply them fairly well. From this point, the emphasis is really on getting lots and lots of mileage. You're training your eye to see and your hand to do.



  • try to draw everyday,or every second day,dont stop,put headphones on your head ,listen to good music,focus...and never stop



  • Thanks for the good advice! I do try to draw everyday but sometimes I wonder if I am just reinforcing bad habits rather than making any improvements. I try to focus on one thing at a time (like line quality or values) but then I get a bit bored with the exercises and fall back into my old habits. Maybe I just need to be a bit more patient and disciplined.



  • @missmushy said in overwhelmed- any advice?:

    soo I have been trying to get better at drawing for a while now and am finding it a challenge to know where to focus since basically, I need to improve everything.

    If you feel you need to improve on everything, my opinion is that you should spend some good effort on the skills in "How to Draw Everything" as well as perspective and constructive drawing skills. The sooner you get comfortable with these, the more effective studying other subjects will be,

    @missmushy said in overwhelmed- any advice?:

    should I relentlessly repeat a set of exercises everyday for a month and then move on to another set? or should i structure my time by mixing it up - so my day would consist of doing some exercises and then doing master studies then trying to do my own things.

    I would not relentlessly repeat exercises, but would go with a mix instead. There needs to be a balance to this however. Don't just flit around from subject to subject without focus from one exercise to the next. Make sure you put in good effort to the topic you are studying, but don't feel you need to master it before you can move on. Try to find a variety of exercises on the same study topic that build on each other, fill in gaps, and inform each other. Do exercises from reference, from life, from imagination. Do master studies- but always have an agenda with them. Don't just blindly copy. Find a variety of sources to learn from, because they will teach things slightly differently that might resonate in different ways. Books, videos, courses, tutorials. Again, just make sure you are putting in time and effort with your sources.

    For my lifestyle, I've personally found that spending 1-2 months on one subject is a good amount of time to spend on it, before intensely studying something else. It allows for a nice pace, that's not too strenuous, but is still condensed enough to focus. I try to glean as much as I can from the subject, I work hard at it, and then at a certain point, I feel it's time to move on to another subject. I try to apply what I've learned where I can, and know that I will eventually come around to the subject again at a later date.

    Most of the time, you don't necessarily see that you've improved after studying something intensely right away. That's ok. You might just need time to absorb the info, learn other lessons, and come back to it with fresh eyes. Often times you see the results of your studies pay off sometime down the road, when you don't expect it. Periodically check back with your old work and studies and you might see you've improved more than your realized.



  • Personally I use the basic exercises like straight lines, line quality, circles in perspective excreta as warm up exercises for my arm. For actual practice I think 3-d construction of objects (start with basic stuff like chairs and things in your house you can observe easily) is important. If you do draw everyday great but I personally don't because of my work so every second I study books and read.



  • This is a great question! Certainly something I wrestle with myself.

    I learned that 99% of days, if I don't do Art Time first, I tend to not do it. It's very easy for me to get sucked into cleaning, paperwork, chores, the stuff of life... those things are endless. I try to do art for at least an hour before I move on to check off a Life Thing or two.

    As for what Art Time consists of... well, I'll just tell you what I do, and you can take it or leave it. :)

    I usually start with watching some of my current SVS lesson, which is often inspiring and gives me all sorts of good ideas/challenges. (Usually while I have a coffee or eat. Multitasking, lol)

    Then, if I haven't already started doodling during the lesson (hehe) I'll start with what I call "drawing drills." I use Pintrest to save art that I like, and then I draw from those for a while. The specific thing I draw varies, but it's very good practice to try to match what you see. I suggest starting with what you like, then adding in things that look challenging. I can't tell you how great it feels to face an image and think "no way I can do that" but then an hour or so later you've been able to copy it. If I start with drawing either from photographic reference, or from my mind, that's when I tend to just do what I usually do, and I don't feel like I'm improving.

    Then, I move on to my current project. Sometimes this is a piece I've been asked to do, or other times it's an online challenge/event. Last month it was Inktober, I also like to do Animal Alphabets, and this month I have a small personal project before a bigger project begins in Dec/Jan.

    While I work, I like to listen to videos/podcasts like Will Terry or Jake Parker's YouTube videos, since they usually don't need to be watched, just listened to. And music or a book on tape. :)

    I've just been able to get back into my art, and this is the routine I have right now.

    The main thing, I think, is to continue working, even if you're not sure what you're doing, or you feel "blocked". Don't be afraid to try a new technique, or make mistakes. I tend to be a perfectionist, so I have to tell myself that I'm filling me sketchbook with only terrible drawings (to get them out of my system haha).

    I found twitter to be a great motivator, and the SVS forums are also a great place to post art and ask for feedback. When I worked with other artists, I loved having my co-workers around to ask for critiques.

    I also suggest watching Jake Parker's video on YouTube called "You Need a Project, Not a Product" (I think I got that right). He explains what a personal project is, gives ideas, and lays out why having a project is an excellent way to improve.

    Hope this helps! I'm very interested in what other people have to say, too.

    Keep drawing :)



  • @missmushy I think we all feel this way at times! The more we learn, the more we don't know :-) Just keep drawing and challening yourself and you'll get bettter no matter what order it is. By doing the challenges you might find that there are certain areas that you are weak in and then can go look up the lessons and try to use them with that particular challenge. Or listen to the feedback you get on WIP. Even if you don't watch a wholecourse, you can look for the parts that you need most at the time. Just going to the page with all of the videos can be overwhelming! I have a hard time following any order at all so I am not a good one to ask . I do think that by doing you can't help but improve though. It can sometimes be a painful process because we will never feel good enough, but we will always be better than we were and much better than we think. Hang in there!



  • Thanks! this is good stuff - I can be very hard on myself so good to know I am not alone in the struggle. I see the great paintings other folks are doing and I feel it will take me forever to get that good. But I will try some of your suggestions and just keep at it. cheers!



  • I've questioned this too! in fact I made a post here on SVS called How To Draw Everyday and so many people added their thoughts and experiences about drawing everyday, even Lee White gave his thoughts.

    So what Lee White told me was to gather your favorite artwork from great artists and make a sort of Dream Portfolio(also a great thread on the forums) to make master copies and study the artwork.



  • @ben-migliore will check out that post, thanks!





  • @ben-migliore thanks! lots of good advice there.


  • administrators

    We are in the process of creating a very detailed curriculum to follow here that will hopefully help here. We are also launching a lot more classes with feedback so that may be an option too. : )



  • @lee-white Thank you Lee! Really appreciate SVS classes and this forum has also been an awesome resource. Looking forward to the curriculum and the new classes!



  • @missmushy

    I’m completely new as well so take this into consideration. I was Flittering from one place to the next as well until I decided to work on one project piece and put the focus on making that piece great. I’m like two weeks in so again this is all new to me BUT what I’m finding is that when I watch the SVS courses, and can apply it to my one piece, it’s much more satisfying than doing a bunch of irrelevant or what seems to be irrelevant exercises.

    Mine is just a fun piece I want to make for my grandma, but in it I have to figure out a composition, draw a human figure, draw bunch of the same type of animal, I have to draw action, I have to draw perspective, find tone possibly color... there’s a lot to figure out for one illustration. So, first I started with my idea so I watched Lee’s storytelling video, went from there to composition, so I watched the creative composition videos and the environmental design videos and played with shapes and lines and tonal thumbnails, practiced silhouettes and stylization, the list goes on and it’s been a learning process for sure. But it’s been fun because it’s all going to a fun project I want to make.. for fun.

    So my advice is... work on a project you wanna do and implement the knowledge you absorb. Rework and revisit and give yourself grace. It’ll take time but it’ll be worth it in the end.

    Best of luck!
    -Kali



  • @kali-williams great advice! I am mulling over a few ideas for a children’s book, really just a thing for family, so it might be a good opportunity to apply this approach. I might be too chicken to post pics tho lol! 😳 oh well baby steps, eh?



  • @missmushy

    Sounds like a great idea to me. An entire book is a lot of work but it would be a great project to complete. Just don’t be too hard on yourself to do things fast etc.



  • @kali-williams thanks for the encouragement 🙂



  • @missmushy Hi there! my advice although it might sound a bit strange is to enter all the art contests/ challeges you can.I have been doing this for a few years and even though I know I wont win a prize the experience of working to a deadline with a set idea is a great learning experience.What i have noticed is now I am getting faster at completing the tasks and getting the ideas down. I even have won a few prizes.Even if you do the challeges and dont post the results it still helps.


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