Day 10: Become a better artist, become a better painter

“Keep Going” 9×12, oil on paper

Become a better athlete, become a better runner. That was one of the pieces of advice in the “best advice ever run.” Coach Bennett explained that so many runners he talks to say they only run. No weights, no yoga, no swimming, no biking. None of the things that would enhance their ability to run. So let’s, as I’ve been doing for the past couple of days, try it on for painting, shall we? 

Become a better artist, become a better painter

This one hit me real hard. It is so easy to ignore my sketchbook. To put all my energy into complete paintings, ones I can frame and hang in the gallery. It’s so easy to ignore my ipad where I can draw out my ideas and easily edit them. It’s really easy to jump right into a painting without “stretching” first. No thumbnail sketch to get the ball rolling and prepare for what is to come. No exercises. No drills. It’s so easy to only paint when painting is what I want to get better at.

I practiced this advice last week and did a quick paint-on-paper twenty minute sketch for a wedding commission I am planning. Here’s what happened: the stress of not having started the painting melted away, and I feel more confident going into the actual painting. The sketch carried with it zero pressure so I enjoyed it more than I typically would a commissioned piece. 

I’ve never painted on paper before, and I loved it! The paper drew all the moisture out of the paint so quickly that it was a completely different experience. The paint was dry as I added new layers making the experience more akin to acrylic than oil painting.

I wanted to play around with this more– paint on paper– so today’s painting is just that. It references another French Quarter second line band from another wedding I did a couple years ago. I had planned for it to be “just” a sketch, which I guess it technically is, but I got so lost in the process that I found myself really developing it and spending more time on it than I had intended. I’m excited to translate it onto canvas with my knives and see what might transpire, but it feels like more than just the prep work for something else. It feels like its own thing. 

I hear you, coach. Loud and clear. Become a better artist, become a better painter. Now, pardon me while I go blow some dust off a couple sketchbooks I’ve got stacked away in the back of the studio.


Picture of Denise Hopkins

Denise Hopkins

January 10, 2022

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2 Responses

  1. I love love love the video! And also the advice for your practice. I suppose my idea this go around is similar? I’ve had people tell me that I’m BETTER at portraiture than I am at landscape photography! And there are similar elements between the genre even though they are VASTLY different.

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