I studied art for 10 years and if I consider my adolescence as a musician and the last years as a freelance illustrator, I can consider myself an artist for at least two decades.
During all this time I have been able to learn many different techniques, forms of expression, improving as an artist and growing as a person.
But I want to reveal to you the most important thing I have learned: to became a great artist, you just need the right attitude.
Innate talent doesn't exist. Dot. Anyone can be an artist if moved by passion. This clearly applies to any other activity, whether it's being a musician, a singer, a dancer, etc...
Some people are able to achieve results faster, this is true, but it depends a lot on the family environment in which they live, available resources , the time they manage to spend to that activity, but it does not mean that if another takes months instead of days to reach a goal, this person is denied in doing so.
Soon or later results will come, no matter the quantity but the quality of this time, it's important to give our heart in what we do.
Said that, to improve as an artist, the pattern to follow is:
2) Learn from your mistakes
3) Believe in yourself
Observation means Understanding
The first thing to learn is to know how to observe things, not just take a look at it and get a rough idea back in your head.
Let me give you an example: a person who has never been interested in art and that is trying to draw the classic fruit basket for the first time, probably the only information that will be synthesized will be : round shape, red/yellow color.
But, if in this same situation we put an experienced artist, we will see other additional factors: Shape and Variations, Shades of Color, Surface Texture, Reflection, Projected Shadow, Volume in Relation to Space, Light.
Different example, a similar situation in music: a person who has always listened to the radio distractedly, in a song will hear: Vocal part, drums, and "you know, that instrument that does na na na" while a musician or enthusiast will tell you : Vocal part with fx /chorus, drums with double case, laugh splash, charleston, bass, electric guitar, synthesizer, etc... (based on gender).
The point is, to learn how to recognize all of this you don't need years of study, but just a little attention, right away. It may take some time, but the results will come very quickly also because it is something we can do at any moment of our lives: at dinner, understanding the various colors and shapes of the food, or while watching TV, walking down the street and observing how the sun casts shadows and shapes reflections, etc...
Later, observing also means trying to understand what are the techniques utilized, the various materials, the tricks, and fortunately today the resources on the internet are really a lot, it is very easy to find images, tutorials, video clips or discussions in the forums to learn so much from. I realize that doing this is not easy for everyone, there are people who spontaneously learn how to self-taught, others who need a good guide. I believe that the best teacher you can meet is "ourselves", you just have to know how to listen, for someone this is easy but for someone else not that much. Just work on it!
Be Theacher of Yourself
The mistakes we make, are perhaps the thing from which we can learn the most, because we feel defeated, we hurt ourselves, we feel that we have done everything wrong, and this remains imprinted in the mind much more than a victory.
Many people allow themselves to be too overwhelm by these mistakes and tend to give up on everything. Instead it's important to understand the reason of our failures and try to solve.
One person can make few mistakes and reach a certain skill level right away, while another can take a long time by making mistakes all the time. But I think that between the two, the one that has done mistakes more frequently will have a stronger base of foundations, because it means that he will have developed a much more solid observation and self-analysis capacity, because he will have much more experience in solving the difficult situations and will be able to recognize the issues in advance before they even develop. In addition, this will teach us humility, and from this we can learn so much, because we will be able to listen advices instead of having the presumption of not needing it, we will recognize our limits, but also how to overcome them.
Just as in everyday life, acknowledging an error is the first step in solving the problem.
Believe it with all your heart
Anyone who lives in this world, even the greatest minds of the past, are human beings, and nothing more. They're no different from you, me or your neighbor. They are those who have become because of dedication, luck, by common decision or by magic, but what is certain is that they was human (elf, orc, or whatever you want) ... like you.
A great artist doesn't have a muscle capacity different than yours, he doesn't have bionic hands, super vision or a double brain. He is a person and that means his work can be easily replicated.
How? Observing, learning from mistakes, and believing in it by repeating to yourself "I can do it, and I will do."
Just follow these points, take inspiration from the masters, develop observation, understand the best techniques and never lose enthusiasm. Trust me, anyone can achieve certain results, nevermind education, gender, age and if is called Michelangelo, Jonny or Spock.
In conclusion, to explaining how all this can be translate into practice: anyone can become a great artist if motivated by passion or the desire to learn, and limits will never be imposed on you by a lack of talent. Only YOU will be able to decide if "but no, I'm denied, I'll leave it" or "ok, I'm not very good for now, but I can do it"."
If you put your heart and your soul, everything will be possible. No matter how long it takes, but it is important every second spent doing something that we like, from which we can learn and that makes us feel good.
What makes a Master what he is, isn't a matter of innate talent, but the amount of passion he puts into each of his brushstrokes, notes or gestures. Is "How to love something" and anyone can learn that.