I can kind of answer that question.
I don’t know what kind of art you want to make, but these are the teachings and habits that help me down the path I choose to walk. But so much of the art I like doesn’t involve any of what I’m about to tell you. There are so many roads to explore, and most of them are more interesting than mine.
How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way. Stan Lee and John Buscema. It’s maybe the most concise, accessible primer on representational drawing in the known universe. Great text for beginners. And full of snappy alliteration and hokey hyperbole. It’s basically the Book of Spells by Miranda Goshawk.
The Works of Andrew Loomis. Available for download HERE. I’ve got a few of them in print. Really dense, kind of stuffy, utterly invaluable resources for learning the lost lore of spatial draftsmanship. These are arcane tomes, and they teach the Old Ways. The lost spells. But to absorb their teachings requires sacrifice. Master the way of the novice, the Marvel Way before you approach them.
The Animator’s Survival Kit. Richard Williams. Teaches you how to endow your graphite-and-ink homunculi with the spark of life at 24 frames a second.
THE WIZARDING WAY:
DRAW FROM LIFE. All the time. Draw naked people. Draw clothed people. Draw pets and buildings and teacups and trees and draw all of it all the time. Put it in a book that you keep in your pocket. Steal life from the realm of the living so that the worlds you create might also live.
PAINT FROM LIFE. Use all the paints. Start with value. Separate the light from the dark. Add temperature. Add color. Paint objects then paint landscapes then paint people. Use what you learn to illuminate your own realms.
STUDY. Do not just read about art or just look at art you admire. Books and blogs can be used much more effectively. Copy art you like. Pick it apart. Try to do it yourself. Reverse engineer. STUDY it. Apply what you learn. Take it’s powers for your own.
COURT FAILURE. Try when you might not succeed. Find out why you failed. Correct your mistakes. It’s very tempting to take safe routes to pretty pictures, to sidestep weaknesses or gaps in your understanding. SCREW THAT. Confront them. Destroy them. Smite your weaknesses down upon the mountainside and write the story of your triumph with their ashes.
CREATE. Make what you want to make. Don’t put it off. And don’t wait to be ‘better.’ You’ll always want to be better. No idea you have is so grand that it’s worth wasting your life over until you’re ‘ready.’ Do the damn thing.
FELLOWSHIP. Make friends with artists who inspire, challenge, and support you. Friends who are your cheerleaders, your coaches, and your rivals. An enemy is someone who hates you and wants you to fail. A rival loves you for the challenge you represent. Rivals inspire one another, and give meaning to each other’s struggles. If you don’t understand positive rivalry, read shonen manga until you DO. Start with this. Avoid toxic relationships, and shun those that practice the dark arts.
That’s what works for me…
But you can be a fantastic artist without doing ANY of this stuff. It’s just what helps me on my path towards a very specific, pretty traditional artistic ideal. I confront the challenges that are the most fun for me, but most of my favorite art doesn’t fall within the bounds of what I’m trying to do.
As always, I’m getting to the rest of your questions. Promise.