by Fiona Valentine
Most of us have heard of The 80 20 Rule or The Pareto Principle. It's the idea that 20% of activity is responsible for 80% of results. You might have heard it said that 20% of the people do 80% of the work. In business, it's often 20% of customers who generate 80% of sales.
So, let's apply this rule to our art making. I think it's a game changer and here's why.
One of the things I love about art is that there is so much to learn it never get's old. There are so many styles, colours, techniques, subjects to get us excited that it's hard NOT to feel inspired. The down side of all this abundance is that we don't always realise the importance of focus OR we aren't sure what we should focus on.
Without focus and repetition we don't improve. Without focusing on the RIGHT THINGS we don't improve where it really matters. When we focus on the right things our ability can sky rocket!
In this blog post, I'm going to outline the 20% to focus on to see an 80% improvement in your art.
The 80 20 RULE TIP #1: Colour Theory
If you've been around me or my facebook group The Confident Artist long, you'll know I love to talk colour. I hear a lot of artists say they struggle to understand colour. I believe conquering colour theory is definitely a game changer. Focus on these aspects:
Making time to focus on colour alone will do so much to improve your painting and increase your joy in the creative process. This is definitely on my 20% priority list!!!! Need some help? Check out this blog post and my Colour Course to get your colour theory sorted.
The 80 20 RULE TIP #2: Learn How to Draw
Next, accurate drawing is a must. Keep working away at this one. Even if you can use technology, photos, projectors, transfer paper, light boxes etc, if you can’t draw you are not seeing accurately and that will affect your painting ability!
To learn to draw really means to learn to see. That’s why you need to make good drawing one of your top 5. It’s not just regular drawing, but learning how to draw well that will have you kicking goals by focusing on this skill.
I'm including in this category understanding light and shadow, perspective and proportion. Need some help getting started? This blog post has some great tips and tools to help you.
The 80 20 RULE TIP #3: Art Composition
Understanding composition is probably THE NO. 1 game changer and shift towards creating paintings with wow factor. When you start to think in terms of a handful of big value masses that create an interesting composition, your paintings will improve out of sight.
Often, we focus on these areas:
Although important, these are not going to make the biggest difference. It’s composition that is the key to wow factor.
You can read more about composition basics here.
The 80 20 RULE TIP #4: Creative Process
Next in our list of the 20% to focus on to see an 80% improvement in your work is the creative process. So many aspiring artists dive into pushing paint around before they have really thought about what they want to paint and how to go about it.
These steps are some of the most enjoyable in the painting process and certainly the planning involved is KEY to successful painting outcomes, but many of us are so keen to get “painting” we rush this part or skip it all together.
Slowing down and learning how to build a creative process is so helpful. Painting is just one part of this. I’ve written about creative process in more detail here.
The 80 20 RULE TIP #5: Sharing Your Art
Once you have been working at these basics, you are going to want to share your art with people you care about. You may even be wanting to sell your art. Spending some time learning how to speak about your art needs to be on your priority list, for sure.
Thinking of the effect your words have on others and how to begin pricing your work is worth doing sooner rather than later.
Who are you sharing with? What do they want / need / like? Where are they hanging out on social media?
Spending time thinking about WHO you are creating for and what they need will help you come across with joy and confidence.
The last thing people need is to be made to feel like they did the wrong thing by giving you a compliment or expressing an interest in buying your art!
Beware the vulnerability and self conscious awkwardness that can make you say something that will cause the person admiring your art to feel uncomfortable or that they clearly have no idea or terrible taste!
If in doubt, just smile and say thank you.
If you'd like some help & encouragement as you focus on the 20% that will help improve your art by 80%, come join me and over 200 other artists and art newbies at my free facebook group The Confident Artist.
Hi, I'm Fiona. I'm an artist and art coach. I help aspiring artists build a creative habit and conquer the basics of painting so they can make beautiful art.
You have more than enough creativity and talent. You need knowledge, practice and a creative process that really works.
I'm here to help!