I am currently working with a former student of mine on his art portfolio for college. I give him some basic corrections, but he keeps coming back with the same mistakes. It’s frustrating to spend so much time on text messages and photoshop redraws with such little return. He’s spent the three and a half years of college developing his own “style”. It’s very important to him. However, in my humble opinion, he is fighting tooth and nail for his style when he ought to be spending time on foundational problems and then applying his style to the basics. He has been doing the proverbial cart before the horse.
I sat down just a few minutes ago to text him a critique of one of his in-progress drawings. After so much work with him on perspective, it was obvious, he hadn’t worked it out in this picture. The figures lacked foreshortening and as usual, the entire picture was some kind of gray mishmash. I think the advice I gave him is actually very good advice for any beginning artist, so I’m repeating it here:
“You should always approach a drawing by a.) working out the basic rough idea b.) pegging the point of view ( perspective) and c.) working out the lights and darks. Only THEN should you start the actual sketch, the underdrawing. Otherwise, you will run into problems. I think you have some bad drawing habits which you have to break RIGHT NOW before graduation. You have a very nice style but it can’t work successfully unless you go through the steps of good design first. That means spending time with references, rulers, and thinking through the values. Trust me, doing all the legwork is a pain in the butt, but it eventually becomes second nature and the good habits replace the bad ones.”
What I didn’t tell him, is that a portfolio doesn’t work if you have dozens of poorly drawn works on display. You need just a handful of masterful drawings to showcase your skill as an artist. But that takes a lot of work, and a lot of patience.