No matter the style, learn the basics

Beginning artists often like a certain style of another artist. This is the reason why they start painting, drawing, sculpting or any other creative activity. “I want to paint like…” is what one often hear from beginners. But no matter the chosen style, they usually do this mistake: They neglect to learn the basics of the craft.

This is a problem because if you do not understand the fundamentals of a skill (let’s say painting) you are not able to understand how a certain style is created and how you can come up with your own stylistic choices.

Look at the horse study I provided by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Toulouse-Lautrec is known for is Moulin Rouge posters and for capturing the Parisian nightlife. His subjects are often painted / drawn very stylized. They are caricatures. This is why I find this representational study so cool, because Toulouse-Lautrec captured the horse without exaggeration.

This is a skill all great caricaturists have. They study and understand reality, and they are able to depict it. From this basis, they decide which parts to emphasize and which not.

It is a choice they have because they earned the skill, which makes them independent of randomness and happy accidents. They know all the elements that make up a visual work of art (composition, edges, values, color, texture…) and can manipulate them.

So, no matter the style, learn the basics and from there create the style others will want to emulate.