I took a day off from work in the middle of this week to go to a painting workshop. More of a demonstration, as I sat near the instructor's easel with my notebook and watched and absorbed. I have visited this artist's studio in the past, and I love the looseness and rich colors of her work. I wanted to see how she got there, from blank canvas to finished image. While I did certainly pick up some technical tips, and some ideas to experiment with, the main thing I learned was that she's good because she works at it. She paints all the time. She's been painting since she was 17. This is her work, and she probably puts into it the same amount of time that I put into my work. Which I'm good at.
"If you want to get better," she told us, "go home and paint, paint, paint." She advised us to paint at least 3 times a week, for a couple of hours at a time. Set up the work, our space to paint in, the night before, so you can arrive and begin. Paint still lifes, over and over. Just paint. Someone in class asked what books or instructors she recommended to learn from. "I don't," she said, "You have to learn from yourself." Just do it, make mistakes, and keep going. Show up and do the work, that's the only way to learn.