I've been wanting to take serious measures to improve my art skills for some time now. Unfortunately, due to the pressures of a large student project, portfolio, and finding a job, I never really found the time to spend on self-improvement (heck, I was lucky to get 5 hours of sleep and two meals a day.)
However, last week I was temporarily "let go" from my job while we awaited word from the client of the project I was working on. "Well," I thought to myself, "what do I do now?"
During the previous weekend, my father and I went to the Kimball art museum in Dallas to see the Impressionists exhibition. I marveled at the use of color. So deeply I wished to master this element of art, to truly understand the futility of the color peach when painting a human subject, or green when painting the grass. My first couple of days were spent solely looking for photographic reference of anything and everything, with a particular focus on landscapes (during different seasons and different times of day), and people of various skin types.
The first night I attempted a quick paint, I used Photoshop, and kept my time to an hour or less. I made two attempts on the same photo, and was deeply dissatisfied with both.
I found that I struggled a great deal with Photoshop's brushes. I wanted something that felt more like using real medium. Trying to get anything to blend in Photoshop was a real chore for me. Apparently, there are ways to make custom brushes in Photoshop that act more like real medium brushes, but it requires a lot of fiddling. I'll have to try making some later.
The next night, a made another attempt, this time in Painter. I was much, much happier with my results. I felt much more like I was practicing in art than struggling with a program. I wasn't quite as happy with the next attempt, but never the less, I DID feel I was coming to a better understanding of color in human skin and hair.