One way I strive to get better at painting is to practice drawing. Besides the versatility of being able to use different materials, I can experiment with working fast or slow, try new techniques and unlike painting, it's ready to go. One drawing approach I enjoy is I aux quatre crayon. In french it means using only four colors: white, red, brown and black. Typically it's drawn with pastels, conte crayon or charcoal on toned paper. I was inspired to to do this after looking at drawings by Peter Paul Rubens. His masterful use of just 4 colors makes a drawing really come to life and is a great way to explore the idea of saying a lot with a little. Below is an example of his work:
Another great way to improve that is tried and true is to copy the work of master artists. With this in mind I practiced aux quatre crayon by translating a painting of the great english portraitist Henry Raeburn.
Later I used pastel pencils to create this portrait of my honorary nephew Henry for my friends Susan and Joe. Whether drawing or painting, my goal is to present my subject in their best light and to bring pleasure to those who commissioned the work. Each medium, painting or drawing, informs the other and I find this greatly rewarding.