General wisdom for artists No.3

3. Warm up first

Do you ever forget how to use a tool properly or is that just me? I’m not kidding you know. If you’ve been working in one medium for a long time and you find yourself one day deciding to use another, you may realise too late that you’ve become a little rusty with it. If you happen to have dived into an important piece and realise part way into that it’s rubbish because you’re using the brush like a spanner (so to speak) then you may become disheartened and go off in a sulk to do something else. Worse yet, you can then become scared of using that medium again since your most recent failure is the thing you most strongly remember.

This happened to me recently with oil paints. I hadn’t done any oil painting for a year or so until several days ago when I mangled a canvas by treating the paint like it was digital. This could all have been avoided with some relaxing warm up doodles or paintings where I refreshed my understanding of the strengths and limitations of oil painting.

Whatever it is that you do, its best to do a little warm up session before you attempt your magnum opus. This doesn’t just apply to knowledge of media, it also applies to knowledge of stuff like anatomy and lighting. If you’re in the business of figure drawing, then why not draw a few rough gesture drawings first? On top of the fact that you can refresh your knowledge this way, it also helps you get into the right mood for the important stuff. Just be careful that you don’t spend too long warming up and expend all your creative energy before you get down to the important stuff.

Whatever it is you mean to achieve today, do a few scribbles first!