1. Tonal Value
This is easily the most common mistake that I see as an Art Teacher, and it’s often a real shame. Artworks with beautiful colours and strokes and gorgeous details become overall flat and lifeless because they don’t have the right range of dark and light or don’t have them in the correct places. Incorrect tonal value has a bigger impact on realism or believability than any other element of a drawing or painting.
Contrast – the difference between your lightest lights and darkest darks – would be the second biggest mistakes that artists make. If used well, it can draw attention to certain details or make some or all of your subject matter really pop out of the page or canvas. However, most artists overuse the tones in the middle.
3 3. Direction (‘Form’)
Understanding how a 3-dimensional form moves through space is key to creating a convincing illusion of it. To make an artwork believable, an artist has to think in terms of 3-dimensional space – to think about all parts of the object not just those they can see. This prevents an artwork seeming flat. Don’t worry folks – this can be taught! ;)
4. Using White and Black to Lighten and Darken
There are so many reasons why you shouldn’t do this which I go into in my courses but the best reason is this – what do you get if you mix black and white? Grey. Say no to grey paintings and start creating beautiful colours.
5. Mis-Using Warm and Cool Colours
Warm and cool colours are a system that each interacts best with those within the same system. You can mix across, but do it too much or in the wrong way and you risk making your picture really muddy and losing any freshness.
6. Figure Perspective
It’s interesting how many artist know to apply perspective in their landscapes but don’t on their figures. This is especially the case in portraits or figure studies from a three quarter view, where you often see the furthest eye being drawn too big or too high or low. Portraiture and life drawing are the most challenging subjects in most art courses and it takes a while to understand the fundamentals, including perspective on a figure, which is more complex than the one-dimensional perspective most students are familiar with.
7. Figure Proportions
Figure proportions are tricky when a figure is just standing there, let alone when they move around! As well, we get used to seeing variations in proportions through video games, comics and animations. This can make it hard to see the real thing correctly when we are creating life drawings and figure studies. Many artists make legs and arms too long or heads too small or large relative to the body.
Many artists make one of two main mistakes with textures – either they get the detail right at the expense of the bigger picture, or the bigger picture right at the expense of the details. The trick to this is efficiency and technique – planning ahead so that you can create both at the same time. Most people struggle specifically with the texture of eyes and hairs – keep an eye out as I’ll give a tutorial on these soon.
9. Specific Body Parts
Most artists find that there is one (or more!) body part that particularly confounds them, such as hands, feet, knees, ears or eyes. Or when they get it right, they can’t sit it within the context of the rest of the figure well. For example, you finally get beautiful eyes happening but they don’t work within the rest of the head. Some of this will come down to a knowledge of anatomy – there’s a reason classical artists are trained to learn the skeleton and muscles! The other part can usually be resolved with detailed studies of the problem areas and figure perspective.
The problem many artists have with shadows are not just about the relative darkness (a tonal value problem), but also the colour, size, details and edges. All of this requires a good understanding of the properties of light, which many artists haven’t had the chance to learn. Some of these problems also come down to understanding warm and cool colour systems, especially with warm toned subject matter.
Pretty much all of these mistakes or problem areas come back to training, and that is something we can help you with. Our Basic Drawing Course is coming online on June 10, and Intermediate and Advanced courses after that. These will teach you the practical skills and tricks you need to be a great artist and they are completely online!
In addition we have free video lessons on our Blueberry Beetle Youtube channel, which we are adding to all the time: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAcmevI_UToWKv4cymMeG8w
So check us out, subscribe and bookmark our Art School: www.blueberrybeetle.com. We hope to see you soon!