Here’s the simple answer…
ALL THE TIME
Unfortunately….There is no set formula or amount of time to practice. Depends on a number of factors.
- Your daily schedule. Are you a busy parent with lots of family commitments? Or a busy professional with little time for anything else?
- Your goals. Is drawing/art a hobby or a career pursuit?
- Your level of passion. Do you really like to draw? And willing to do what it takes to get good at it? Or do you think it will be a passing interest like your other endeavors/hobbies?
Here are some examples of practice sessions of other famous artists and musicians
- Jimi Hendrix practiced all the time. There was never a time he was without his guitar. He even slept with it.
- Mozart has been composing music since the age of 12. The length of practice sessions, unknown
- Da Vinci had no formal education beyond math reading and writing but his father appreciated his artistic talent and let him apprentice with the Italian Master Andrea del Verrocchio.
- Somerset Maugham: “I practice when only inspired. So I make sure that I am inspired every morning at 8 AM
These experts honed their craft on a daily basis either by working on commissioned pieces or just drawing on their own. When they were students they copied their instructors and traced master collections. You should strive to do the same.
What to do when you have so much to do?
Ideally, Start off with a half-hour to an hour each day and focus on what to practice.
For example, plan on practicing 20 minutes on simple geometric forms: circles, ellipses, cones and cubes. Then practice figure and head drawing exercises. As a beginner look for simple objects to draw around the house: desks, chairs, tables and appliances.
On the Next day, focus on speed. Practice drawing those common objects at various angles and levels. Then gradually shave that down to 20 minutes, 15, 10, 5, etc. Don’t worry about the quality at this point just the process of practicing.
There are plenty of beginning art books that can give you ideas on what to practice.
Believe me the quality will be probably better than you think. Gradually you’ll see some improvement.
Remember we are striving for improvement not exhibition quality work. Focus on the little wins and forget about the failures. Learn from them. But don’t dwell on them.
What Does the early days of Space Exporation have to do with art?
Failure Is Part of the Journey!!
Don’t fear it embrace it.
Look up those videos on Youtube and watch the disasters the engineers faced with those early launches. Keep in mind each disaster was a step closer to space.
Same with drawing or any other endeavor each mistake is closer to quality work. It just takes time. Even if you lack the talent the brain will find “workarounds” and soon you’ll be drawing quality pieces of art.
Ok… Now that you have an idea on how to practice
Set up a practice schedule
1. Go get a calendar and mark down the times when you are going to practice and stick to it.
Obviously, you’ll have to workout a schedule based on you other responsibilities.
But…If you can dedicate a 30 minutes per day that’s a great start. Carry a little sketch book around with you on those extra busy days. You can practice sketching basic objects cubes, spheres and cylinders while waiting in line at the grocery store or an appointment. Practice sketching basic objects around you trees, cars, buildings and even people. Or just draw cubes and cylinders in different positions.
2. Set-up your drawing space
A lot of creative types use a starting ritual. I start off with a, cup of coffee, a quick workout, and a cold shower. Some creatives wear a favorite article of clothing or use incense etc. Do something that gets the mind focused on the task.
Make sure loved ones, room mates and pets etc. understand that once you are in your drawing space you are not to be disturbed:
From the hours of 9-1 1 am or from – 4p to 8p is your practice session and make sure you stick to it. At the end of the session practice is over … period. Put away the supplies clean up the space open the door, anything that indicates that the session is over.
Bonus tip: at the end of the session you set up more goals for the next session. That way you can just jump right in without thinking about what you are going to. Remember you are on a tight schedule.
Hey I am a Creative type and I don’t like regimentation
If this is too regimented and you are not the regimented type then try to practice a little each day fifteen minutes or so. Whenever you can find the time. Even a few minutes a day is better than nothing.
Honestly, to see real progress you are going to have to set up a practice schedule. Without some kind of structure it’s really going to be hard to stick to your goals and monitor your progress. Be sure to date your work so that you can see the progress.
3. Develop an accountability group
Find a group of like minded people that are on the same path you are on. It would be nice to find a leader that is further along but if this is not possible consider developing your own group. You should be encouraging other and holding each other accountable; what did you practice this week? Or what did you do? You could do it online or meet in a library anywhere really a park bench could do the trick. Nothing fancy. If you cannot find a space then do it on zoom or FaceTime.
Make sure you take some breaks.
Neuroscientists state that most people can only focus a 1/2 hour on an complex activity after that the mind begins to wander.
When that happens take a break. There is no sense in fighting it. Your mind will wonder even more. As your skills increase the ability to concentrate for longer periods will increase as well.
Some people can focus for longer periods and some shorter. The bottom line is to stick to the plan and implement it. Remember…I am going to drill this into your head
Don’t neglect your health!!
Be sure to exercise, stretch, do some core exercises, sit ups, planks etc. Check out some Yoga videos or sign up for personal training sessions. I’m being serious here..you have to maintain a healthy lifestyle if you really want to progress in your training. Sitting for long periods of time, (over an hour), hunched over a desk or easel is hard on the posture and bad for your back. It’s very easy to get caught up in the practice and spending over 2 hours in the same position. Time does fly when you are having fun.
But…your back will not forgive you.
There are some ergonomic desks and chairs that can help with posture issues on Amazon. Lot’s of artists and writers use standing desks to vary the positions.
As always, FOCUS ON THE PROCESS… NOT THE RESULT.
You’ll hear me say over and over again.
Make this your mantra. Pin over your desk. Some days the drawings will look great and others well you get the idea.
Believe with practice the skills will improve along with the quality of the art.
Think of it like exercising or training for a marathon art training is no different. The quality will improve over time. Maybe you can only run 2 miles or even less. But with practice you’ll build up the endurance and soon you be doing 10 miles, 15 20 miles etc.
I know that some of the instruction and training can be repetitive and boring but believe me this is how the masters did it. Developing muscle memory is KEY to mastering any activity including art.
Here’s to happy drawing
Be sure to share some of your practice rituals and what has worked for you and how long it took.