By Adriel Sherman
I remember watching online videos of artists doing amazing work. For me, it started with art journaling videos, but it quickly escalated to artists painting, drawing, doodling, sketching, and everything else. Amazing pieces that I was awestruck over. I’d wonder, how did they get so good? I wish I had that talent…
I’ve come to a point in my art where people are asking me the same things I used to think about other artists. “Wow! How do you do it? I wish I could do that…” It amazes me every time. And my answer is always the same: I doodled every day. I doodled and drew and sketched and painted and journaled as much as I could, in as many ways as I could, with as many different art supplies as I could. I experimented as much as possible and just never stopped. How could I know if I was good or bad at something unless I tried? How could I find my personal style and artistic voice unless I attempted new things? And to this day, I strongly believe that this experimentation and persistence in the face of not feeling talented enough was the key to get me where I am now.
Art is about trying new things and making mistakes. I always try to encourage new artists to keep going, to never give up, never stop. Doodle every. Single. Day. Artists can be so hard on themselves. They look at their creations and don’t see talent, just wasted paper. They feel so discouraged because they aren’t as good as so-and-so artist. They see the talent of others and use that to put themselves down. I know exactly how it feels. We need to stop doing that to ourselves as artists.
Having anxiety and depression certainly didn’t help, either. Depression would tell me I wasn’t good enough, and anxiety would make me fear I never would be. So I decided to try and use art to counter those thoughts. At first, art was just a distraction from negative thoughts. But over time it became so much more. It’s how I calm down, how I meditate, how I relax and process information. Doodling and art became my greatest weapons against anxiety and depression. I advocate their use to battle mental health issues constantly. But you have to doodle everyday. Or at least try to. You have to work past those blocks and insecurities. You can’t let the negative take over. It doesn’t matter if you feel like you have the talent or not, doodle, draw, paint, sketch, write because you love it.
In my experience, experimentation is one of the best ways to grow as an artist. Seriously, I didn’t start off being really great at what I do when I first put pen to paper. Experimentation is the best way to learn what you’re good at and what you’re not good at. It helps to define and redefine your artistic voice and abilities, and can help break any artist block. Experimenting can be as simple as switching up your pen type or as complex as trying a completely new medium. I have used every pen and paper type, brand, and combo available to me. I learned about ink densities and consistencies, about the different ingredients that make them permanent or water-soluble, about the different blacks and how they are made. I learned about paper weights and textures. About how the paper is made can affect how it feels and looks and how it accepts wet vs dry media. I learned and never stopped learning.
That is what led me to Bee Paper. I’ve tried a ton of different sketchbooks, from the cheap brands at department stores, to the expensive name brands found only online. I’ve tried a ton of different combos of media on paper to see what worked best for me. And it always came back to doodles using fineliner pens. But because I tend to thicken my lines and work slowly, fineliner pens bled and feathered through pretty much everything. This is a very frustrating thing for someone who needs extremely precise linework to get the desired effect. In addition, I like to use watercolor to add color to my pieces. If the paper is too thin the piece doesn’t look right when water is applied. Then one day, while searching online for yet another sketchbook to try, I found Bee Paper’s Super Deluxe spiral sketchbook. It was 6 x 6in, which was appealing because it was different (most sketchbooks are portrait) and had thick, heavyweight, lightly textured paper. Using it was like a dream, not only did it take wet media well, but I was able to thicken my lines without any feathering or bleeding. I often get the compliment that people think my drawings are computer generated because the lines look so neat. I later found a 9x9in version of the same sketchbook which is now the only sketchbook I’ll use for this kind of work. Experimentation is how you discover which brands you prefer, what types of media you like best, what paper you need.
The last bit advice I’d like to give anyone asking how to improve and grow in their art would be to never stop looking for inspiration in the art of others. I think this is a key element often overlooked by many artists. Watch videos, look up drawings, get ideas and inspiration from art already created or being created. That’s what I did. That’s how I found my style, I found art I loved, that spoke to me. It inspired my own art until I found my voice. Consider what draws you to certain art and why you like it so much. Find similar artists and watch videos of them working. And never forget that your style is not frozen, it can always grow with you and your tastes.
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