Do you have to practice art every day? Do you need to paint or use Photoshop on a regular and consistent basis to keep your skills sharp?
I get these kinds of questions all the time from students, and it's a really important subject.
But I have to admit that every time I hear this, I am reminded of the quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."
You might hear all the time from professional artists about how you need to practice every day to get good, or the whole "10,000 hours to mastery" thing.
Of course, there's truth in this, but it's not so black and white.
Take this question I got from a student recently:
"Hello, Gary, I am one of your students and I've been wanting to ask you a question, which is more of an issue for me.
Sometimes, I don't get to draw or make sketches every day and if I miss out on 2 or 3 days (basically, I take a little break), it almost seems like I've forgotten how to draw. Is it true or am I just overthinking it?
How do you cope with this hiatus? Is there a method to quickly recover?
I'd like any advise you give me, as right now I feel a little lost at the moment."
First, this is something all artists struggle with. Even if it doesn't seem like you're making progress, or even like you've gotten a bit worse after some time, you are always learning and improving as long as you're putting the time in and consistently creating artwork (even if it's every 2-3 days).
This is just how our brains learn – they spend a lot of time processing things, and then every now and then, we see a bit of improvement all at once. But in between, we appear to be about the same, or even like we're getting a bit worse.
And a lot of our learning actually occurs in between our practice sessions, and while we're sleeping (so make sure you're getting plenty of rest, too!).
In short, if you miss a few days, don't sweat it!
There's no need to worry if you don't practice art every day.
It takes time to see improvement, so just enjoy the process and keep on sketching. You'll see your skills improve over time. It's more important that you don't get too worked up about it and that you actually enjoy the process – otherwise, what's the point?
And of course, learning from courses and other artists will accelerate this process. If you want a little boost to your art skills and to get more hands-on feedback and guidance on your work, check out my Smart Art Academy course here.