In this article, we will learn ways to practice our artwork to improve at a faster and more permanent way.
This artist, YanSculpts, mentions something that has proven true in my work, whether it’s painting, writing, woodworking or whatever. Listen to what he says and then we’ll break it down into sections below the video:
Video by YanSculpts
Learning to Practice Efficiently
YanSculpts presents ways to “practice efficiently.” His premise is that there are certain ways to practice that will allow us to store our new knowledge in our long-term memory, not just in our short-term memory. He states that there are efficient ways and inefficient ways to strive to improve our creating work.
He says there are 3 things we should stop doing and 5 things we should start doing. Let’s look closely at these things:
First Thing to Stop Doing – Allowing Distractions
Stop allowing distractions into your work area. Postpone checking emails, watching videos, listening to audio books and the like.
All of our focus should be centered on practicing our creative work.
As I think back to many of my painting sessions, I can see that he is absolutely right. I have set aside time to paint – but I also used this time to catch up on the news, watch movies or listen to audio books.
I’m going to take YanSculpts advice and use my art sessions to concentrate on my current creative work and block out the rest of the world. Sounds heavenly.
Second Thing to Stop Doing – Multitasking
Multitasking – not good for improving our artwork. According to YanSculpts, continual multitasking can also cause us to reduce our attention span.
From now on, I won’t be cooking dinner and washing clothes while I’m working on a creative project. My creative time will be my creative time. Sounds heavenly.
Third Thing to Stop Doing – Working for Too Long at a Stretch
Don’t work for long stretches without taking breaks. YanSculpts suggests 2 to 5 minute breaks every 30 minutes.
There are times when I hear myself saying, “This is a good stopping point.” At that moment, I make a note (mental or on paper) of the next step I want to tackle when I return to the project. I may have worked for longer than 30 minutes. I wouldn’t want to interrupt my work if I was on a roll no matter how much time I was submerged in the creative process.
On the other hand, when I feel stuck or frustrated that something is not coming out the way I envisioned, this is when I take a break. I get away from the project for a short period of time. When I return, I can often see the problem and can fix it.
It seems to me that the breaks should involve activities that support the creative work, such as enjoying a favorite tea, resting the eyes or taking a quick brisk walk in the sunshine. I don’t think catching up on the news during a break will put me in a mood that will enhance my artist capabilities!
QUESTION: What do you think about YanSculpts’ suggestions for the 3 things we should stop doing? Leave a comment below.
First Thing We Should Start Doing – Deep Examination
According to YanSculpts, when we draw, paint, sculpt or whatever one subject after another, we are storing this learning in our short-term memory.
However, when we analyze a subject from every angle, inside and out, until we can create it in a expert manner from memory, we are storing this subject in our long-term memory. YanScupts declares that this is a more efficient way of learning.
When I was learning to be a chainsaw carver, I set up a carved bear in my vision and started carving on a log. At first, it seemed impossible – like when you are first learning to balance on a bicycle. My first “bear” was a disaster.
So that night I took some clay and shaped a bear. I realized that my mind had to visualize the bear in 3-D inside the log, which at the time I was not sure I could ever do.
On day two, I set up another log and carved away. Same crappy results. But I got the ears in the right place. That was an improvement.
That night, I tried to picture the bear inside the log. My job was to carve away everything that wasn’t the bear. It seemed impossible to know what to carve away and what to leave alone.
On day three, my results were not much better. But I realized that my mind was struggling to see the bear in the log and there were a few moments when it actually happened, just for a flash.
Long story short, I carved 30 bears before I created one I felt someone would buy. And I carved almost every day for the next 8 years and sold every bear, wolf and raccoon I made from that point on, except for a few that I kept.
Through repetition, I am now able to see a 3-D object inside a solid cube, cylinder, ball or pyramid. My brain just learned to do that because I kept at it until it learned how.
The point is that I agree wholeheartedly with YanSculpts regarding this matter. By knowing my subject from every angle and in 3 dimensions, I grew to be able to create a carved bear from memory every time.
I confess that I don’t always do this with my paintings. But I will from now on! I will envision each element in 3-D and practice it until I can do it from memory, without a reference photo.
Second Thing We Should Do – Recall from Memory
YanScupts suggests that we study our subject matter and create it over and over until we can create it from memory.
Do you create the same artwork over and over or do you move on to something new each time? It has crossed my mind in the past that I should take a painting that I did fairly well and repaint it, improving one aspect each time, until I can see stark improvement from the first painting.
I think I’ll take YanSculpts’ advice and paint something until I can paint it very well from memory.
Third Thing We Should Do – Self Critique
YanSculpt suggests that as part of the process, we create something from memory and then compare it to the reference drawing to see if we forgot anything.
Then, if we discover something that should have been done differently, we redo the work without looking at the reference photo until we are done and ready to compare our work to the photo.
This is an excellent exercise for making consistent improvements to our work. Although you might be saying that this is anything but “quick,” it could actually be the closest thing to a straight line from where we are now in our level of expertise to where we want to be.
Fourth Thing We Should Do – Get Sufficient Rest
Easier said than done sometimes, but it’s common knowledge that we do our best work when we are rested and not tired or stressed.
YanSculps claims that sleeping well helps our brain to retains the knowledge we learned that day.
Fifth Thing We Should Do – Spaced Repetition
Going back from time to time to do what we learned causes the information to become even more embedded in the mind.
When I was younger, I had a math workbook that continually brought up math problems that I learned in previous chapters. By the end of the book, there were math problems from every previous chapter.
With this teaching approach, each concept was periodically presented to me and I didn’t forget what I had previously learned. The new knowledge was not given the chance to “overwrite” the old knowledge.
This is what YanSculpts is saying. Don’t just learn to do something well and then move on forever. Continually revisit what you learned and it will stay with you. You will be able to recall it at a moment’s notice, even years from when you first learned it – because you repeated it periodically.
So what do you think? Do you agree with YanSculpts’ approach to long-term learning to improve your artistic skills more quickly? Will you apply any of these principles to your creative endeavors? Do you have other methods that works for you? Let us know in the comments section below.