How Did You Develop Your Art Skills?

Thank you Stephanie for asking me this question. Answering this question for you, brought me closer to myself! I had to walk down the memory lane to bring up a lot of things that I almost forgot, and it took me back to where it all started 🙂 

Here is the detailed question asked by Stephanie.

Hi Debasree,

I got into acrylic painting in my early 20s before I had kids and I was a beginner.  Fast forward 25 years later (about 3 years ago) I began dabbling in watercolor painting, surface pattern design/digital art with Procreate and Affinity Designer(began 6 months ago).  Over these last 4 days, I realized that my style is loose landscape paintings.  I do prefer acrylic painting.  I was wondering what suggestions you have for someone who wants to develop their painting skills to a professional level.  I have a Skillshare membership which has been helpful and that is how I found you.   I know that the more I paint, the more I will develop my skills.

How did you develop your skills after leaving your job and switch careers?  Learning about the steps you took might help me.  Have a nice day.



my answer:

To develop your painting skills to a professional level..

You already said it – “The more you paint, the more you develop your skills”. And that is true for everything, not just painting.

So the real question is – How can I paint more?

Have an end goal in mind. We mostly paint without a goal, or rather with a goal that is not very long-sustaining (to impress others). So first find out why you want to develop your painting skills. If you have a clear answer to the question, then nothing can stop you from practicing and getting better. I painted a lot because I enjoyed the process of creating!

The next question comes – How long do I have to practice? I have been painting for 3 months, but I don’t see myself progressing. 

Well, how many have you painted in those 3 months? If you painted 10 paintings in 3 months, then probably you won’t see a major shift. But if you practiced daily and created close to 90 paintings, you wouldn’t have this question. And once you see your progress after practicing for 3 months, no power in the world can stop you from painting more & getting better.

And the final question – What to paint? 

There are so many paintings out there, and so many tutorials on the web… there is literally an information overload. And it is very easy to feel lost after browsing through Pinterest for hours. I know it because it happens to me too. So it’s a good practice to give yourself a target. 

Eg: I’ll paint only mountains or clouds or seascapes or flowers for the next 2 weeks or 30 days! Or follow an online challenge for 15 days or 30 days. They are great to get you into practice without wasting time thinking about what to paint. I did just that.

The more you practice painting, the better you get at your hand-eye coordination and you understand intuitively how much pressure in your brushstrokes will create what you are envisioning in your head for painting a particular area on your canvas. 

When we paint a lot, we understand color mixing by default. There is an easier way of understanding colors as well – take a color mixing class to find out how various shades of colors can be created by mixing just 3 or 4 colors. Keep it as a reference for every time you paint, so that whenever you encounter a scene in your reference image, you know automatically what colors need to be mixed.

Unfortunately, when I was starting there were no such courses available online, so I had to learn through trial and error by practicing hundreds and thousands of paintings.

How I developed my skills after leaving my job and switch careers?

I’ll answer it in 2 parts.

1. How did i develop my skills?

I didn’t know at the time that I was developing my art skills… all I knew was that I was trying out new things every day. There is hardly anything artsy that I haven’t tried! I just enjoyed the process of creating. I’ll try to list some of the things that I can dig from my memory:

  1. paper mache crafts
  2. clay modeling
  3. abstract painting
  4. coffee painting
  5. newspaper crafts
  6. plate painting
  7. jewellery making
  8. glass painting
  9. murals
  10. sketching
  11. waste material crafts
  12. paper crafts (origami)
  13. wall clock mural
  14. stippling art
  15. acrylic pour
  16. resin art
  17. ring dishes
  18. fabric painting
  19. newspaper painting
  20. mixed media artworks
  21. macrame
  22. madhubani paintings
  23. warli art
  24. 3D paintings

That is all I can think of at the moment. If I remember more, I’ll add later!

Doesn’t it look like a course curriculum of an art school?  I myself had no idea until I typed it all out 😀 And these are in no particular order, I just typed as I remembered.

I mostly used to gift away the finished pieces to friends and family and sold some as well. Most of these happened during 2013 – 2015 tenure while I was still working at the corporate.

2. How did I switch career?

Since I was so much into creating stuff, I strongly felt inside that sitting in front of a computer all day long was not for me. I had to quit.

My creating passion continued and the money in my savings gradually started depleting. That is when I started the jewellery business but it wasn’t sustainable. Then I got the idea of hosting painting parties from an American friend. The concept was very popular in the US in 2016, but not so much in India. I was one of the pioneers in starting it. That’s how I started Group Art Circle and hosted 700+ workshops until covid struck in 2020.

One thing that came very naturally to me, was the online part of my art business. Due to my experience in IT, I could very easily create websites, create events on meetup, create social media profiles and start marketing on my own. I didn’t even know the term ‘marketing’ at that time, all I knew was that I have to get people to my workshops. I’d say I did 50% effort and the remaining 50% happened through word of mouth. That gave me the belief that if I do good work, people would automatically come to my workshops. So that was a subconscious belief that got created in me very early on, and motivated me to learn and teach better with every upcoming workshop.

When I started my painting workshops, I quickly realised I know nothing about this business. So tried searching online and found many successful businesses in the US. I tried following them and learnt about them as much as I could find online. By studying 10 or more such companies, I got a clear idea of how it works and I started modelling after them. But quickly realised that I’m in India and their model will not fit here. So I started improvising and did what felt right to me.

That’s how I found a balanced way of learning and earning. I’d learn a new painting, practice it 5-6 times, and then I’d teach it. So you can imagine the amount of practice I had to do, and as a result my painting skills improved automatically over a period of time.

So that’s my story in short. My skills developed over a period of time, and after a lot and lot of practice. Consistency is the key here. Let me know if I solved your doubts, and how can I help you further!

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