Doodling in a pad, collecting images that inspire you, testing colours, copying artists' work or experimenting with materials are all great ways to develop your artwork; instead of buying a sketchbook you might decide to make your own or find an old book to draw in. If that all sounds a bit much, just keep a small pad with you to sketch in...there are no rules!
If you want a more structured way of learning you can follow the approach taken in art education. The themes below are roughly divided up into areas of study required by examining boards for most art qualifications...research and investigation into artists, a personal response to their work, experimentation with materials, development of ideas, drawing skills, and analysis of your own work in the form of annotation.
Whether you are studying art or just looking for a hobby, following this path is hugely worthwhile; looking at art is the best form of inspiration, it doesn't matter what age you are and immersing yourself thoroughly could take you all the way through art school to becoming an artist.
DRAWING FROM LIFE
Drawing from life is an important aspect of art education, it is also a wonderful way to switch off and absorb the world around you. Whatever form it takes, from detailed study to loose abstracted lines, the more you draw the more fluid you become at transposing the visual information around you into 2D and the better you become.
An exam student will be given a paper by an examining board with seven or so loose starting points which have a huge scope of interpretation...'Collections', 'Crowds', 'Inside/Outside' are examples. Within these themes suggestions are made of how to approach the subject as well as a list of relevant artists. Students look at the work of these artists or others they might find suitable in order to get inspiration for their project. Laying out the research and decorating each page in a way that suits the artists' work makes for a very effective sketchbook and the final completed result often becomes a stunning artwork in itself.
Using the work of artists to inspire a personal response...
The possibilities are endless...drawing, painting, colour, monotone, small, huge...mixing paint with wax or wood varnish, making textured surfaces or natural brushes; throwing, scratching, dribbling, collage...line, tone, abstracted, classical, free, controlled...ideas and happening...and on and on it goes!