Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Practice: Art and Physics

I took a drawing class last summer - the first time that I had any instruction to speak of in art. I did this partially for pragmatic purposes (diagrams in class, etc.) and partly for enjoyment. I wasn't great at the beginning, and I still am not great, but I'm so much better now than when I began. I'm also much better than I thought that I could be at drawing. I thought that I knew what types of drawing I would be good at and what types I wouldn't be good at, but both of those estimations were off of the mark.

The transfer to physics learning (or any other learning) is real:

  • Even if you're not good at something, you can improve dramatically through intentional practice and engagement with feedback. The 'intentional' and 'engagement' parts are really important.
  • You can't be sure about what your 'talents' are before putting in work. We're obviously not all going to be Paganini, but we could all improve a great deal by practicing the violin purposefully over the course of a long time period.
  • Consistent practice over time is better than fits and spurts of intense work. I haven't practiced a lot, but I'm now doing an open figure drawing session twice per month. I could get better faster by practicing more often, but doing the time that I am doing all at once and then stopping for a year wouldn't be as productive as spreading it out.
My first attempt at a face, back in the summer:

My most recent face, from yesterday: It's not the best face ever drawn, but it's a ton better than I even thought that I could do!

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