Here are a few ideas to help you improve your work.
This is just my style. Many artists will say this as an excuse not to improve or take classes. You don’t have to go to school, but just learning techniques in general is a good idea. Your style will evolve over time, and not learning a technique to help you with that will only hurt your style in the long run.
Keep you lines clean. This is especially true when working on watercolor paper. Using an eraser damages the paper. Having little sketchy lines everywhere is not attractive. Sketching it out on tracing paper first and then using transfer paper can be much more effective if you have a hard time with messy lines like I do.
Slow down. Sometimes it’s not that your painting isn’t good. It just isn’t finished yet. I can spend hours on an 8×10 watercolor painting. Make sure you have the color and contrast good enough. Once I slowed down on my watercolors I noticed a large difference in the amount of detail I could get.
Don’t let frustration stop you. Sometimes you get so frustrated that your work isn’t good enough that you want to give up, but often times that leads to new inspiration about doing something better. I was frustrated about my coffee and tea paintings fading over time. So I came up with the idea of using an acrylic binder and acrylic mediums. If you’re work isn’t as good as someone else’s, stop and study theirs to figure out why. You’ll probably see a big improvement once you’re done.
It’s not always you. Just because things aren’t working out, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s because of an unlearned technique. Maybe you need better equipment. I noticed a huge difference when I switched from Canson XL 140lbs cold press watercolor paper to Fabriano Artistico 300lbs soft press watercolor paper. I had bolder color, and I could get a ton more layers than I could with the Canson.
Do more paintings. This one is kind of common sense, but the more paintings you do, the better you get. Keep a journal and write down what worked with this painting and what didn’t. What did you like and not like? This will help you know what to do next time.
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