In this article I want to discuss how to progress as an artist, quickly! There are many factors that can hold us back when it comes to progressing. Let us look at a few of these factors and break them down into manageable goals that are easy to understand and implement.

I don't have time to draw.

The sad truth of the matter is that our daily lives encompass most of our waking hours and not all of us are lucky enough to have jobs in the art field. We wake up and go to work, come home tired, get ready for bed and start the day over. The problem here is that the same routine will start over every day, when the weekend gets here we have to fit all of our personal events into these one or two days, respectfully. 

So how do we go about getting better so we can finally get an art job that allows us to draw every day? The secret is starting small. Most of use want to jump right into the big agencies and we get discouraged if we don't make it, the problem is that we were not ready for the big agencies in the first place. To get there, we need to practice much more and maybe try to find some small agencies in the mean time and get our foot in the door.

So how do we do this?

First off, carry your sketchbook with you everywhere you go. Whenever you get a minute, pull it out and jot something down. Try starting with gesture sketches, these can be very small sketches that are only a few inches in size on the page can even be stick figures. What you want to do is capture the movement of your subject. If it is a person, think of how their legs are positioned, if they are standing contrapposto or not, the position of their legs and arms as well as if they are twisting or not. Draw it quickly and go back to what you are doing and over time, and short amounts of it, you will increase in your speed and draw more gestures in the same time frame. 

Now start adding mass onto those gestures. Try to get a sense of how thick the object is, how it turns, how the light is hitting it and so on. You will find that you quickly progress at these and you will start to visualize the large shapes and then be able to break them into smaller shapes, your values will get more accurate as well. You will find that you are beginning to fit more dynamic and refined drawings into your sketchbook quickly by simply starting with these quick gesture sketches.

Now you have successfully fit in small drawings over short breaks, riding the bus, sitting passenger in a car, whenever a few moments hit. You will find that you will start to revisit sketches you started and begin to take them to a much more refined state during these short breaks and you will start to fill your sketchbook with some pretty nice art.

Don't be scared to get better.

As funny as it may sound, many people hold themselves back with the fear of getting better. As you progress you will find that your drawings will become much more dynamic, they also become much more difficult.  You will have more value to deal with, you will start to find interesting angles that foreshorten your drawings, and many other aspects. The fear of trying to draw something you are unfamiliar with holds many back but the ones who dare to tackle the daunting task are the ones that progress the fastest.

Having a niche is good but don't let it be a limiting factor in your progression. If you like to draw zombies and that's all you ever practice, you might get better at zombies but what if someone commissions you to draw a vampire? Fantasy aside, what if you become great at drawing landscapes and someone commissions you for a girl eating an apple under a tree? The landscape may be great but the girl may be poorly drawn. Have your niche that you try to sell to the agencies you wish to work but don't limit your understanding of various subjects. Those who draw various subjects and draw them often find that it only improves their niche. 

Be scared to draw and draw through the fear. You will find that it benefits you immensely.

Show your work.

I have noticed that many amateur artists are scared to death to let people look at their work. They don't feel they are good enough, they feel the onlookers may mock their attempts. First off, if someone is mocking your work then you are probably already better than them anyway. If it is a great artist doing it, they have probably never sold anything due to poor attitude or they fear how fast you are progressing. Maybe the person is just rude. Those who are willing to show their work and accept the critique in a positive manner no matter how difficult it may be will only progress.

You don't have to go out of your way to show people but if someone asked if they can see what you are working on, feel free to hand over your book for them to take a look. The thought of people looking at your work will help you stay motivated to get better.

There are many online forums where you can post up your work and some will even have a community that is willing to offer constructive critique to help you, with their critique you will often see things in your work you had never noticed before. That is one of the great things about showing your work to artists who are better than you, their critique it will help you progress at astonishing rates.

Update your work.

Updating your work is often an overlooked aspect by many, especially with how many art boards and forums we have access to these days. Once you have posted your work, feel free to update it to new versions or get rid of an old drawing. If you see errors in your drawings at a later date that just means you have improved and it is time to update that piece with new work. 

The problem with the internet is you sometimes can never clear your name of old work. Don't worry, if you have some old work that you just cannot seem to take down due to someone else posting it up, just know that it may be very inspiring to someone just starting out like you once did to see how far you have come. They see that you had errors in your drawings, that the proportions may have been a bit off, whatever it may be. They see those errors and then see your current work, it can motivate them to try even harder knowing that these goals are actually obtainable.

To sum things up. 

Don't be scared of your progression and allow yourself to draw any chance you get. Let your sketchbook get tattered and torn up in the process. I've drawn in the rain before (drawing experiment)! Sketchbooks are fairly cheap, buy a few of them and draw as much as possible. You will find that progressing as an artist isn't as overwhelming as you may have thought. The more you draw, the better you get, simple as that!