Art isn't made in a vacuum

Alternative title: The importance, role and methodology of artistic studies.

Many of you have heard me say that "art isn't made in a vacuum" over and over. But what does that mean? And what should you do?

It means there are many resources out there to help you improve your art and you should take advantage of them.

When I asked about learning textures, Nakira had the following to say:

It's definitely a hard thing to come to understand - most of my understanding of it comes from having absolutely no idea what I'm doing and just messing around with line, shape, texture, etc. until I find something that looks okay. I also browse a lot of artist's on dA, tumblr, reddit, textbooks, any resource I can find, and see how they've come to describe similar textures.

While completely taking what they do isn't okay, using it as a basis of what your next step should be is fine. A lot of times I look at something, say a tree, and think "oh, huh, this artist used a lot of vertical twisting lines. How would I do that in my own art?" and going from there.

So, what to do?

Explore new things

When I say take from other artists, I don't mean to mimic them like robots. I mean to get you thinking about different ways of approaching all things art and expanding your horizons.

We all come to art with a few books of knowledge. Maybe it's some scraps of anatomy or perhaps it's what you drew before finding ponies. Some people intuitively understand texture, others color and others lighting. However art is a large large subject and to progress, improve and understand it takes building up these books into a massive library of knowledge.

Books! Best tools ever.

So? How to get more books?

Look at other artists

For many of us this comes as a natural part of the daily routine. Other artists/art is interesting and there's always the question of "wait... how did they do that?" As an artist you have an opportunity to improve by trying new things and trying to figure out what/how another did something.

Do studies

What's a study? Repetition of a certain object or method. If you're confused about hands, then do dozens of them like these da Vinci studies:

art by Leonardo da Vinci

Don't understand pony muzzles? Find pony pictures/references and draw from them. Want to know about hatching? Study artists and integrate/expand your library by drawing from them.


Practice doesn't make perfect. Practice makes permanent. Vary your approach to art. Push yourself outside of the comfort zone. Have no idea how to approach movement? Start drawing movement pieces. Don't see enough contrast in your pieces? Do contrast practice. Practice new things.

Take advantage of your fellow artist's brains

Talk with us! We're human. Ask questions. All the questions. Always. Everywhere. Questions!

Learning art is like filesharing.

Except it isn't illegal...

It doesn't take anything away from the giver and you get free books!

Most importantly

Art isn't made in a vacuum!

A lot of art comes down to doing art
But it's How you do it that determines what you learn.

You can't expect yourself to get better all alone and you don't have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to art. If you want to do something look at how others have done it before you and give it your own interpretation.

Also, tonight I will be hosting a livestream during which I hope to explore the critique and exercises Nakira offered me.
You can come too... if you'd like. I enjoy the interaction.