If you want to learn something try to do it many small steps.
If you want to paint portraits then think about the all rhe steps:
Doing the preliminary drawing
Painting the first layers
Painting the last layer
And so on.
Go in much more detail and learn each step at its time. If you have problems with one step you may had a problem in the step before without knowing it.
There is a difference between painting what you see, painting what you think you see and painting what you want to see.
Always separate these three to stay in control. Artists live from their choices not their accidents.
A painting should not show us what you can.
It should show us what we can do (with it).
If a painting is about showing us your muscles, it is for you.
If painting is about our desires, emotions, mood, story, life, if it teaches us something about the world then it is art and … for us.
Look at your art.
How much do you care about the opinions of others?
How much influence is ok for you?
Do you make decisions based on the opinions of others or the opinions that you think people might have?
Decide which parts of your art are not negotiable and defeat them. Let the others talk. You know what you are doing and why. If not, think about the points repeatedly noted by different people.
If you feel like you search something undefinable try to see yourself as an explorer.
Explorers explore new terrain and find something on the way. They don’t know what they find but that is not important. They want to move forward. The explorer asks what’s next.
A seeker searches for something specific but they don’t know how to find. The seeker asks how or where.
Watch what you do daily. Are there activities you spend more than 20 minutes a day on? Do you like do them? Why do you do them? Are they really (really really) necessary for your well being?
Maybe you could cut them away and win 20 or more minutes a day for the thing you like the most.
Simplify your day.
A simple day is a beautiful day.
If we can bring contrasting elements together, if we find harmony in difference, powerful art will emerge.
And contrast does not only include color, values and edges. Think always about contrast. Theme, mood, support, frame, movement and so on.
Contrast is what makes art and life enjoyable.
Repetition can be boring, irritating or exhausting.
BUT the tolerance for repeating one exercise again and again and again and again is something you cannot overestimate.
Learning is repeating.
Repeating makes hard work comfortable (over time).
Doing the hard work makes you a master (over time).
Mastering one skill open the opportunity to master the next.
Repetition. Repetition. Repetition.
A film has length, a painting has …?
How can we include time as an element in one painting or in multiple paintings?
A series of paintings can tell a story with more detail or examine a theme from more angles. Think about your paintings as a film and lead the viewer through them.
What is the story line, highlights, dips, the climax?
Give your paintings length, not just scale.
I am thinking about Monet’s garden and how he searched for motifs. What a comfort to have the favorite reference directly at home.