Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had a great week! This week, I started a new painting that I’m hoping to share next week. While I was sketching the subject’s face, I realized how quickly I was able to sketch the nose compared to the mouth. I kept going back to the mouth because it felt off, but I put four strokes of paint for the nose and it suddenly came together. Today, I realized why, so now I’d like to share a story about noses from high school.
For the last three years of high school, I had the same art teacher, so my friends and I were all able to build good relationships with him which also meant we were all constantly joking around with each other. At the beginning of my junior year, my teacher spent a couple of days on each feature of the face. On “nose day,” I had to leave school early, and my dad came to pick me up right as my art class started. My teacher was very upset that I would be missing nose day and acted mad to joke around with me, but told me to practice on my own. And practice I did.
I went to work in my sketchbook. I started with one nose and then moved on to the next until I had 41 noses of various sizes and colors on the page in front of me. I used an array of materials, including acrylic paint, gouache, colored pencil, graphite pencil, ink, markers, and micron pens. I went into this sketchbook page thinking it would just be something funny to show my teacher, but looking back on it, I realize that maybe it was more beneficial than I thought.
Doing something like this might not seem like a study, but it is. It was practice for me that ultimately helped me understand the structure of a nose and how best to draw it. Soon after this, I found myself doodling noses on my history notes instead of eyes as I would usually draw. I wanted to practice until I got it absolutely right. It also allowed me to experiment with materials and colors. Since I didn’t limit myself to skin tones, I had a lot of freedom and room to explore. I learned what materials I liked and which ones I didn’t (markers still scare me). What I did as a joke turned out to be possibly one of the most important things I did to build my foundations as an artist.
So, I think there’s three lessons here. The first one is to practice. Practice full portraits, practice different poses, practice hands, practice eyes, practice mouths, and, of course, practice noses. It’s only with practice that you can grow as an artist. You need these basic drawing skills in order to move forward and create art that speaks to you.
The second lesson is to experiment. Find the materials you like, and perfect your ability to use them. Explore different subject matter. Make one piece where everything is perfectly blended, then make one where you leave brushstrokes and paint drips. This is the best way to find a style that suits you and conveys the messages you want to put in your art.
The final lesson is create friendships. The art world is full of kind, cool, and supportive people that want to see you do your best. Make friends in your art classes, because they might become unexpected lifelong friends. Build relationships with your teachers and professors, because after you graduate they’ll keep in touch so they can see your journey continue (and they might even listen to you complain about oil paint once or twice or a hundred times).
So, to anyone reading this – go draw something! Practicing is the first step into this unbelievable world, and trust me: it’s well worth 41 noses.