Getting Better Faster – Painting with 80/20 Rule

Getting Better Faster – Painting with 80/20 Rule


There are things I do almost every time I
paint. I follow a process. I follow a process when I set up my easel,
my paints and brushes, stain the canvas… If I want to paint quicker, I premix a bunch
of colors. Batch the paint mixing to save time. I can do that while I wait for the stain to
dry. I usually spend 2 to 3 hours on a plein air
painting. Today, I’m doing quicksketch painting. I found that when I limit myself to just 25
to 30 minutes, I still capture most of it. I lose some of the details, and the shapes
might not be as accurate. But by spending just 20% of the time, and
focusing on the most important 20% of information, I can get 80% there. Good ol’ 80/20 rule. I’m not saying you should do this to increase
your output of paintings to sell. You could I guess. But I think this is useful to artists, especially
students, because it increases the value of each minute of practice. It speeds up your fail rate. You get to practice the most important 80%
of the concepts 5 times instead of just once. You get to fail quicker. Learn from more mistakes. Fail quicker. Fix more mistakes. Try things that you wouldn’t try on a longer
painting. Fail quicker! That’s huge when learning to do anything. Being efficient and practicing smart, compounded
over 5 to 10 years… You do the math. Of course, practicing those subtle details
is important too. So I don’t want to diminish the value of
longer studies. Both have their merits. But to learn those important fundamental concepts
that will make the biggest impact in your work. That’s where quicksketch is king. You know that guy in your art class that got
really really good in like 2-3 years? And then that other guy that’s been bouncing
around workshops for 10 years. The guy looking for a secret, the perfect
pencil to use. What’s the difference between these two
guys? Of course, the first guy draws a lot more. But those students that stand out. The ones that obviously developed faster than
everyone else, they didn’t just practice hard. They practiced smart. I lost some white! I lost some… My chunk of white’s over back there! Oh no, I think I see it! Alright, so we’re closer to the lagoon now. More looking straight at it instead of down at it. But I’m seeing a lot of zigzags,
so I’m gonna go with that patern. Maybe even add a cloud pattern up there,
just a little bit of a zigzag. I know right now it’s really soft up in the sky but I could cheat the edges if I want. I can sharpen them up. We tend to think we don’t have enough time. It’s amazing how much can be accomplished
in just a few minutes. When we remove the minutia and focus only
on the few most important things, we can capture the moment in just a few moments. The things you choose to focus on can change
depending on what you think is important or what you’re studying. Today I’m focused on composition, depth,
and simplicity of values. Compositionally I usually go with my gut. Work on my intuition by placing things where
they feel good. Designing shapes to feel good. To add depth I’m thinking about atmospheric
perspective. Typically I’ll consider 3 layers: foreground,
middle ground, and background. The foreground has more contrast of values
and colors. There are more details and the edges are sharper. As we go towards the background, we lose the
contrast, we lose the details, and we lose the sharp edges. Simplicity of values means I’m trying to
group things together into large shapes of value. I’ll add subtle variations within, but I
want it to read as a large clean shape. For example, I have the mountain as 1 shape,
the trees in the middle ground as another shape, the sand as another shape, and the grass
as another with a gradation of light to dark from top to bottom. You can see I even grouped the sky and the
distant mountain together to separate the white clouds. But you don’t want every group to be a different
value. Simplify your values. I used the same value for the closer mountain,
the trees and the bottom of the grass. Same value for the sky, the distant mountain,
and the distant grass. And the same value for the water and the sand. The clouds have their own bright white, but
I put a few strokes of very light sand to add more contrast in the foreground. Times up. 2 successful color studies. When I don’t want to play it safe, when
I’m looking for something exciting to happen, I’ll break from the process. I’ll try something new. Most of the time the results are unexpected
and undesirable. I end up having to fix it. But in the process of fixing it, I get something
new. That rare moment when the results are desirable
is called a happy accident. Though it’s not an accident at all. It’s an intentional break from the process
to allow for happy accidents. To fail quickly. To learn from the desirable and undesirable
results. So, follow a process when you want things
to be efficient and predictable. But don’t forget to experiment. Break from the process to discover something
new.

100 thoughts on “Getting Better Faster – Painting with 80/20 Rule

  1. Proko scrapes off all his paint off in the end and I am one of the few who was glad to see him do that. I had a workshop instructor who subscribes to that same idea (end a session by scraping all the paint away and begin with fresh paint every single time). Now, not all of us can afford that…(I still save a lot of mine)…but I completely understand the concept. For another thing, he wouldn't be able to transport the oversized palette in his backpack with paint on it. It's his paint, people…his way. Oh, and many people ask often what is his setup It is a Soltek easel…(he places the homemade palette on top of the open Soltek).

  2. Wow, Two to three hours? The light moves so fast. Just subbed to you're channel and have just started my own plein air channel here in Sydney Australia. Love you're work Mate and happy painting Brother 🎨😊👌

  3. God i love your channel Stan. From the get go you had one of the most clear, fun, instructive, professional looking art channels on the internet, and it has been growing and improving ever since. Thanks so much for all the tips, the motivation, the passion. Oh and merry Christmas.

  4. Yes, especially for beginners as the most important 20% would be the construction/anatomy + perspective

    The rest 80% would be the fine and not so fine details

  5. That was very helpful, thank you. A time limit to get work done helps focus you into churning out the work (especially on those sluggish days) and as you say it can help you make mistakes and learn/experiment faster.

  6. aaaand this is why i prefer watercolor to go outside, then take notes and work later 😀 (oil lasts minimum 2 days fresh, transport is a problem, not only forthe palette)

  7. Could of had a good pile of grey there Proko… waste not want not 👍 I'm liberal when painting but frugal when cleaning up 😉

  8. Fail quicker. I must remind myself this over and over as it is the fastest way to improvement. I always feared failure and struggle with perfectionism that paralyzes me from ever trying. Thanks Proko.

  9. oh no!!! those paints' Did you throw away those paint just for this video? or is that part of your process too?! hehe!

  10. Thanks for such a stylish video and helpful content. What have you used to fix your camera to the easel? I've been looking on Amazon for something like that, or a gooseneck clamp, but not sure what is best .

  11. Literally have watched your back catalogue of vids over the last few days and feeling super inspired. Just wondering if you could advise what make is your plein air easel or recommend one? Many thanks

  12. I love that chill tone in your voice and the funny side of your videos haha, we learn and laugh at the same time 😛 perfect combo

  13. Proko, to avoid getting all entangled in the mess of a palette when painting outdoors, I've custom made a hinged-lid box (one inch deep), with glass palette (mid-tone painted undersurface) fitted inside. After painting just close the lid and secure with a velcro tab. This allows me the freedom to squeeze out the paint without worrying about throwing half of it away after a painting session. Cleaning the glass surface often is a breeze with a scraper. Also Easy to pack up and go.
    Great to see you painting en plein air. Love the cinematographic narrative too.

  14. This was wonderful—watching you paint, and loved the "thumbnail" sketch…that's what I have trouble with for some reason.

  15. чуть сердце не остановилось когда одним махом всю краску смёл в кучу

  16. I have always wonderedhow artists do to paint outside acrying everyting they need…It might be a stupid question but I had really never seen people painting outdors…in my life! So… can someone tell me the essentials?

  17. It's good to practice like this when a beginner
    But.. that looks really bad bro O_O 3:05 / 6:46 there is no art that is made quick. Or it's called industrial shit imo.

  18. Jesus guys, Proko gives you thousands of educational tips for free, high quality content and so many of you decided to shit on him for wasting color. First of all the man bought the paint himself, he can do with it what he likes and second, if you do decide to tell him how to treat his paint at least be humble in your wording and not so f-ing smug about it. Goddamn internet-people.

  19. @Proko what camera do you use for filming? The one clipped on to the easel or board. I've noticed it in other videos.

  20. Thank you, seriously thank you so much Stan (I don't speak English well so I have not much words to express it). I feel now I have better tools and basic training to start the journey and not longer be the guy from one workshop to another trying to figure out how to start right. I know many people like me appreciate your enthusiasm, effort, sense of humor and the way you reveal the "misteries" of this beautiful art and bring it to us so easily. Greetings from Colombia.

  21. No proko not a scooter oh the humanity. Joking. I prefer my bike. Gets the legs pumping breaks keep the fingers strong. Love the videos . They have helped me.

  22. löl , this is the reason art pissed me off back in the days , im just too lazy for this … i was always pencil drawing almost 24/7 but colors other then markers always pissed me off … now with a tablet pc im in heaven

  23. Men your videos are so cool! You are a great teacher and your teachings go beyond painting, it's advices for life! Thanks men, i am really learning to have a good method thanks to you. Each time people ask me how i learn to draw, i tell them to go chek your videos! Peace !

  24. Really enjoyed this video! You produce awesome videos. great art, inspiring and just really well done 👍 can’t stop watching it till the end. Really enjoying your channel. Thanks for the awesome content 👏

  25. what do you use to film this? i saw your video with aaron blaise and i wanted to know how you guys filmed and walked around. like the drawing bad with the camera on it.

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