Most artists will tell you that they spent many years painting over and over again until they got better. This is true to some extent, however it is more than this. You may know artists that went to art school, paint everyday, have taken lots of workshops, join all the clubs, enter all the shows, paint in plien air everyday, but still they never get better. And you wonder why...
I could have easily gone for this, but I chose another route. Yes I did go to Art School, but when I was in there one of my professors brought in an a very accomplished artist to talk to us one day. He was a self taught artist ... no art school and his works were fantastic. It was a real ego buster us art students. Here was some one who was willing to spend his time doing "small lessons" to improve until he mastered them.
Whether you are an art student or you are retiring and want to take up painting, the lesson is the same. Set your ego aside. Many new painters expect to get the right supplies, have some instruction and then they will paint their master piece. Maybe you have talent, maybe not, but just like music or dance you don't do a performance right away. You start with basics and practice the steps over and over again.
In music you have scales, in painting we have color charts. This is how we learn to mix color . In dance you have steps to learn before you can do the routines, routines to master before you can get to the rehersals, rehersals to do over and over until you get to the performance. In painting it is the same except you practice brush stokes instead of steps, try different compositions for the routines, do study paintings and drawings for the rehersals. Then you can finally put that big canvas up on the easel with all this reference material and do a painting.
You can really cheat yourself if you think a good photo is your only reference and then you can slap paint on a canvas. It takes careful observation and conscious application to get the good results.
So here you have it, you can paint every day the same way that you always have or you can go back to the basics, re-learn or learn a different way. Try new brush stokes, try different colors and mix them up, be willing to draw something forty times to get right if you have to.