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The Way To Happiness The philosophy of these lessons: Look, Learn, Practice

Chapter 17 of "The Way To Happiness" deals with Competence. I've found that too many limit their own progress as an artist with the concept that they "haven't got the talent." 90% of being a good professional artist is about looking for yourself, learning (including good study habits), and practicing what you have learned to become Competent. If you are interested in a free copy of "The Way to Happiness", please email me for one.

Lesson 6

1. Theory

"You don't stop learning as an artist. You don't stop challenging yourself or you stay in one place." Interview with Marge Alderson, ArtCalendar, Feb '92

2. Word for the week:

ARTIST: n. [From artiste; Italian artista; from Latin ars,artis; probably contracted from the root of Welsh, cerz, Irish, ceard. The radical (that is, root) sense is strength, from stretching, straining, the primary sense of strength and power, and hence of skill.]

  1. One skilled in an art or trade; one who is master or professor of a manual art; a good workman in any trade.
  2. A skillful man; not a novice.
  3. In an academical sense, a proficient in the faculty of arts; a philosopher.
  4. One skilled in the fine arts; as a painter, sculptor, architect, etc.

from American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828 edition

3. Practice: "Learning bears fruit when it is applied."

Exercise: Creating effective shadows

Set up a simple still life and sketch shapes with pen outlines, then fill in simple shadow shapes using black marker. Keep drawing simple, rough and sloppy. Use the following lighting setups:

  1. back light
  2. front light
  3. top light
  4. side light


Fruit Bowl on Flower ClothHere's a couple of studies I did using "gray scale" markers. (You can get these at the art supply store. I used gray to get a finer appreciation of the shapes. These markers are not archival, but they are very handy for quick sketching "on the spot" if you want to get a feel for a composition's values before heading into a full painting.

Still life with White Pitcher


Alternate: (if assigned by instructor)

You can do the above exercise using color. Keep it simple, sketchy. Focus on getting the values correct regardless of color.

Interested in other lessons?

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Last updated: March 1, 2004