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Practise! Practise! Practise!

Practising is not simply doing things over and again

How long does it take to make it as an artist? For many, it is years; for some, never! What if I told you that there is a lady by the name of Betty Edwards who is the author of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, who can help people who have no seemingly artistic skill to draw a wonderful portrait of themselves in just 5 days! To see the effects, visit this website and see the before and after pictures.

Are you impressed? I was, especially since I have not been able to do this even after buying her book and trying it out by myself. It seems like I am not cut out to be an artist! (Is this the fixed mindset talking here? You bet it is!!) This begs the question, what does one do to practise, and how much practise is enough?

It starts with the goal

Interestingly enough, if one doesn't want to be a good artist, or singer, or thinker, or businessman, there is nothing that any teacher can do about it. Obviously the skills are teachable, but the student must want the skills in the first place. There is a Taoist saying that goes, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." It does not mean that the teacher is hiding only to appear when the student has decided to learn. Instead, only when a student decides to learn would the teacher be able to make an impact. And this starts with the learner's goal.

Knowing HOW to practise

What Betty Edwards said is very profound, "These are not drawing skills. These are seeing skills." This is the interplay of lines, space, light and shadows. These, according to Edwards, is teachable. Hence, the next step in practising right is knowing what to do. It surely does not make sense for us to practise the wrong things.

Getting feedback

The next thing that is important in practising is feedback. Obviously if you were drawing a self-portrait, your image in the mirror is the feedback. But that is not enough. There are other technique-related feedback that needs to be provided so that the learner can correct himself and become better. So, timely and accurate feedback that is linked to the goal is extremely important. If there was none, practising will must likely NOT make perfect.

Correcting and staying corrected

I used to play the violin when I was young. What I dreaded most was bending my wrist to cradle the violin and then stretching my fingers to press on the correct position on the neck. It was a most uncomfortable position. Whenever the music teacher was not looking, I let down my hand, like a country fiddler playing at the fair. I ultimately didn't continue my violin lessons because I was not staying corrected. So while I knew what was wrong with my posture, I was not interested in staying corrected. I preferred the easy way out.

Maintaining the flow

Once we have gotten these down to pat, we are home free. We continue doing what needs to be done, and we practise these until we have mastered it. Not too difficult, no? Well, it all depends, really. Do you have all the components to make practise perfect?

Practising does make perfect, but if we don't have the right ingredients, and we don't adopt the correct process for making practise right, all we will end up with is a whole lot of wasted time and effort!

Here's to your perfection!

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