One of the reasons I like to do things (really anything if it comes to it) is because I think I might, with practice, be able to do that thing better. A lot better! I was one of those good all round people – except at sports where I was truly horrible! I remember shivering on York Knavesmire ( a muddy field for knaves to exercise!) trying to shelter beneath a hockey stick! So I always wanted one day, to be really good at Something.
Over 100 years ago, John Ruskin said practicing drawing for an hour a day guaranteed you could draw in 6 months. But I wonder if this idea of practice leading to improvement is actually true?? When I look back at quilts I made ten years ago, I think some of them are better than those I’m making now – yes! some are definitely worse!! and I’ve learned a little about what NOT to make..but I begin to worry that the “good” ones are not getting any better. The same is true of the watercolors. And, I don’t think my cogitations are getting any better, either, but perhaps my Scrabble is improving!!
Does anyone else make things in the hope that by the making of them they will get better at making? In a way one would not really expect just by repetition that one would improve. Even though that’s what “they” always advise.
Doing a little research on this I came up with some interesting suggestions from the net – the ideas were actually suggested for improvement in other things but I think they generalize. The problem is, are they right?
Everything you do regularly is improvable. How fast you improve is different for everyone. The thing that would speed the process up is to practice as much as possible and with different players. Work with someone who is much better than you.
Sadly, different players not possible in art! though that would be a lot of fun and would definitely lead one to up one’s game I would think. I would love to work with someone better than me, but I find that most “good” artists really prefer to work alone.
Improvement in something involving logic will happen for as long as you keep trying – even the best still will get better over time and with more practice, trying out different ideas as they go along.
Hmm, there’s some logic in art, but not a lot!
There are many books, focusing on a different aspects of this activity….try reading a few, you will improve faster.
I have read the books, though there are few (if any) good ones particularly pertaining to art quilts, and definitely have a lot more actual knowledge, but does it improve the work?
Stay at it and work carefully. Do not focus on irrelevant details, but instead on an overall plan. Just stay at it and as you work more you’ll learn more strategies.
I can see that it’s important to not worry about details in composition, but are there irrelevant details that will affect learning? That’s an interesting question. I’m sure many a trainer would like to know what their trainee should NOT waste their time on. Of course things like ironing and petting the fabric come immediately to mind!! but, such a source of pleasure should not be eliminated!
It depends on how often you have a mentor check your work. Get a coach and work with them.
This does sound like a good idea and is a great reason to take a class or even spring for individual lessons. I think if you just keep doing and doing and doing without any external input there’s a limit to how far you can get.
Average people start out terrible, they also don’t improve really fast (just like anything), but this doesn’t matter, these people can still go on to become really good if they love it and practice every day. You need to practice every day which is good because it takes thousands of hours of study and practice.
Daily practice, daily practice…it sounds good but I wonder. There’s a faintly religious tone to this suggestion. Has anyone actually checked? Like the exercises the physiotherapists give you; there’s always 3 sets of ten repeats. Why? why not two times 15?
Have fun with it and the improvement will follow.
I cannot see how this can be true, except to encourage more practice! Certainly I don’t know that anyone has tested the theory that having fun will improve one’s ability though it definitely would improve mood!
Improvement is a herky-jerky affair. You study and see no improvement for weeks or months, then suddenly you wake up one day and you’re "seeing" more clearly. Go through one or two of those vision plateaus and you’ll be good enough…good enough. .
Ha! I’ve heard too much about this mythical plateaus; I see no reason why learning should not be linear if it’s done properly.
Now I used to be in the psychology trade for a while and positive thinking can certainly help you in some areas - specifically in overcoming negative thinking!! but I really don’t see how it could ever help you to learn something new.
The best way to improve is to work on the fundamentals.
I like this idea, it definitely makes sense. And this is something I definitely focus on in both my actual and virtual classes. Sometimes you just have to take stock and go back to the beginning, asking yourself what is strong and what is weak in the work.
If you want to progress, you need to learn how to criticize yourself. It is easier to criticize other’s work than our own but the art of self criticism is essential to learning from mistakes and improving.
While I’m sure this is true, I’ve always felt that criticism without guidance is totally meaningless. “Don’t do that” is just useless – though how very often I’ve been told that in my life!! What works better is “don’t do that, do this”. But rarely do people take the time, or have the knowledge, to do that. I’ve found that even “famous” teachers will simply say “well this isn’t well resolved”. Yes! and…..????
Self criticism means being honest with oneself. There is no benefit from rationalization.
I have definitely found this to be true with a few people I meet in workshops; sometimes it’s rational to rationalize, other times it ain’t!
Invite suggestions from others.
This one is helpful only if the others give useful advice! but sometimes it can be gathered in unusual places. You don’t have to be an art teacher/curator etc to have an “eye”. A good engineer can often detect what is wrong with the structure.
Okay, enough rambling, time to go out and Improve! I’d love to hear what you’ve found helpful in trying to improve – or, alternatively, not helpful and simply a waste of time and money!!
And, if you have been, thanks for reading! Elizabeth
P.S. Some people asked about classes: my online Working in Series on won’t be actually On Line for quite a while, though I will announce it when it is. But, I am teaching the same subject at Hudson River Valley fiber art workshops this Spring (first week in May) and there are a few places left in the class. It’s a lovely spot and easy to get to via shuttle from Albany, NY airport, or Amtrak, or by car, donkeys and bicycles take a bit longer!