Mentioned that my sense of color was appreciated....and this reminded me that I wanted to delve into zee past a bit and share stuff I've learned in college and life about art.
First, my aunt always told me "In Art, there is an ass for every seat...someone, somewhere will appreciate it, so never give up."
In college, I learned.
Draw Big! Do not draw a little pic in the middle of the paper all the time and try to fit the whole body on there...or image or whatnot...let stuff be cut off the sides, let things be up close and personal. Do no have to do a distant view all the time. (which is why I do so many head shots and stuff...I run out of room XD)
Try new things. Do not get stuck in a specific mode of drawing/painting one way...do something different, be creative, it's what being an artist is all about.
Never have color in just one spot on a piece, unless there is a specific reason for it. Your eye will go right to that color, because it will not have any other around it to bounce off of, or balance it out. Even if you just use a light shade of the same color in the background or a similar tone to mimic the other. For example: I want to draw Sir Crocodile, the gold hook should balance by say, the sun, the earring, the eyes, the skin tone, etc...there are many ways I can use similar colors.
Do not stick in one place on a piece...for example if you start drawing the head, and stay fixated on the head of a figure, then you might start laxing on the body, getting lazy on the details elsewhere...move around, add some shadows, heavier linework, highlights, background stuff, etc. Jump around... Also, I usually do a sketch (even if it's just practice before) and loosely draw in the idea as a whole, but not too detailed, to see if I like the idea.
Try different mediums, pencil, pen, marker, watercolors, paints, ketchup, mustard, etc...all have different results! XD
Remember the basics, take stuff apart and rebuild it how you like- just because you like traditional work such as Monet, for example, doesn't mean you go about it exactly the same way. Study different art styles, and try different things at all timez. I often visualize something in my mind before I start to draw...and then just let my imagination go to work. Let's say I wanted to do a Dali style Crocodile...I might visualize some of his pieces, such as the melting watches, the contorted bodies, the natural-earth tones that appeared in a lot of his works, then I might start sketching.
Find a square or rectangular base, such as a slide with no film in it, or some sort of thing created with rulers taped into a square/rectangle..look through this base and make this a "frame" for the image you are going to created/design/capture/etc... see if it is a balanced piece that you like. Your eyes will get more experienced at this as you go..and eventually you might not even need a base at all.
References and looking at things before I draw is not always necessary, and often should be left out. It is so easy to sit and copy another artwork or image, compared to imagining and creating on one's own, but doing an own idea is much more satisfying in the long run. Also, when painting/drawing/etc from objects and images, it loses more of your creativity and becomes more of a copy of someone else's work. If I am going to draw a pic for someone, and I am not familiar enough with the character/request, then yes, I might do some research beforehand. It's often more beneficial for me to read about a character, than to just look at pics. If I understand how something is, then I can visualize that before I create, and voila, more of it appears in the pic.
Our brains are amazing things. We are all creative. Not everyone thinks that way, but we are. Not everyone tries to use it, but somehow we do use what we got. Painting, drawing, dancing, singing, cooking, languages, writing, photography, etc. We are an amazing group of beings and should definitely use what we got.