Quantity and Quality

ReneYou know the saying, “Practice makes perfect?”
I just want to revise that phrase real quick: “Practice create a deeper understanding of perfection, which will only make you MORE bonkers when you don’t make it.” The notion that you’ll ever be perfect is false, and I think most creators know that. Rationally speaking, it’s obvious. But does that mean practice is pointless? What is the goal of practice, and how do we know when we’ve achieved it?

First, what IS practice? For me, as an artist, my practice “sessions” should be like any other trade or sport: challenging, engaging, and at least somewhat enjoyable. But I also need structure and a plan, which is what I’ve been trying to develop for the last few weeks. I’m not going to just sit and draw whatever comes into my head, or else I’ll just have pages full of Boba Fett, Aquaman, and Samus Aran. Which isn’t a bad thing… unless I want to get better at creating, you know, anything else. So I need a plan.

If/when I have a plan, I need to stick to it and use it regularly. I mean more than one a day possibly, and using it whenever I draw, even if it’s just a doodle. I think about whatever I’m having trouble with, and I experiment with ways to overcome those obstacles. In an ideal world, anyway. I haven’t quite gotten these good habits down yet…

I need a plan, and I need to use it. But possibly more importantly, I need to be ready to revise it. Being aware of shifts in your skills and tastes is a huge challenge, but it is super important! It’s like a runner knowing their best time, or a baseball player knowing their batting average. Occasionally “taking inventory” of your abilities, preferences, and knowledge helps you be more conscious of what parts of your practice are working, and what parts aren’t, and therefore need changing.

My previous post talked about drawing qua drawing (drawing for the sake of drawing.) As I’ve been trying to put those ideas into practice, there is an unexpected bonus that I’ve picked up on. I think it may be the answer to that question at the top. Regular practice automates quantity of production. Critical practice (actually considering your decision making) helps the quality of your work.

Well… it SEEMS logical, anyway. We’ll see what happens when I get better at doing what I say!

How do you practice?
On a dangerously deep level, what IS “perfect”?

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