The number 1 skill to have. The way to solve all your problems. The way to improve at art and learn learn learn. Critical thinking!
To be an amazing artist you have to solve problems constantly, reason through when presented with new situations, and come up with an entirely different way of putting things together. Or sometimes it just takes something slightly different from what you did before.
There never is an easy way to think. Or to teach someone to think, unfortunately. A lot of it is time and a lot of it is practice. This guide is here to help get you started in solving your own problems.
Much of art is responsive. Putting marks down and fixing/exploring from there.
However it helps to avoid frustration to have an idea of where you're going before hand. It isn't always where you'll end up, but something as simple as Twilight reading can turn into something epic. Also learning to undersketch is helpful here.
Another note on variety. It pertains to everything. I know how tempting it can be to use the same solution everywhere. You've found a way to do shadows or texture or even a pose and it looks positively neat. However, doing the same thing everywhere results in everything looking the same.
Nothing is different, nothing comes forward and it all blends together into mud. Sad mud.
Study and googling/looking at other artists. Don't know how to shade? Look at how another artist shades. How does a pony look standing straight up? Look at how another artists figures this out. Unless you're copying line for line your interpretation of how other artists do these things will be different. We all have our own filters on how to approach art.
I cannot stress enough the importance of trying to do things that you are unfamiliar with. And I do say try. You cannot expect success instantly, but there is always learning going on when trying new things.
From original compositions to textures to shadows to posing the pony there is always a new way to approach things in art. Trouble is finding those new things. Some tips:
As always and everywhere questions, comments, concerns, queries, bad pony jokes, emotes, and venting welcome.