So much of art is patience, or, 1000 drawings doesn’t always get you to mastery

So much. SO MUCH.

I know much is made of the idea that you should just stop when you feel like stopping, because perfectionism is a road block and what matters is making it to 1000 drawings….

Except I have seen what a gallery of 1000 drawings over ten years looks like when you don’t actually apply yourself. Trust me, it doesn’t look like mastery.

As Alphonso Dunn once said in a video, it doesn’t matter how much you practice if what you practice repeatedly is the wrong thing.

Ah, you may say, there is no such thing as wrong in art!

But the thing is that learning rules and why they exist helps you learn when to break them later. I know that genius artists can totally get away with the “I break the rules and do what I want” approach because their talent takes care of everything else.

I have not yet met a young artist of that caliber. Nor am I one myself.

Anyways, when you’re self-taught you must always be honest with yourself in two things:

  1. Have I really gone as far as I can with this piece? Maybe even a bit farther than I think?
  2. Am I closer to my goal for reaching the high level of proficiency I see in other artists who are better than me?

These are my two principles for learning. They serve me well.

I mean, this is one of the reasons why I push myself even with my Inktober works. Professional artists can cut loose, but my way of cutting loose is to forget all inhibitions and fear and leap ahead.

And push. And push. And push. I push to achieve an effect I want, and I push to adapt when pieces don’t go as I planned.

Yes. I know people will make fun of me for not being as daring as them, for not being as free as unfettered as them, for not breaking rules when I don’t understand yet why they’re there.

Perhaps it is indeed because I am stupid and slow.

But. Well. My progress points to otherwise.

Anyways this is all coming to mind because I’m drawing a still life of fruit sitting on draped cloth with patterns on it. Lots. Of patterns.

If I wanted, I could pretend the backdrop doesn’t exist and not paint it. If I wanted, I could not bother to do rough calculations of where light defined form and color and where shadows fall, and skip lighting. I could do all kinds of shortcuts just to get a piece that looks OK but doesn’t sparkle.

But I would learn less if I did so.

So I continue to toil and apply patience. Even when I’m sick for multiple days in a row and pieces will take time. So. Much. Time.

You gotta finish stuff. But not just finish it in a half-assed way. Not when you’re learning and need to learn a lot in a compressed amount of time.

Those 1000 drawings must be made with the sweat of your brow. It doesn’t work otherwise.

I too fought against this philosophy. But in the end? It’s what gets me ahead.