Updated: Oct 20, 2020
Do you remember being in school and preparing for a test. Everyone prepares differently. Some people prepare from the very first day of class, taking notes on every assignment in their notebook to study from later for the final exam. Some people cram a study session the night before the big test. Some people never studied cause if it didn't get in their head the first time there is no need to try again. My point here is that we all have different ways of learning that works for us. None of these ways of study are wrong--especially if each of these students aced the exam. If that type of study works for them then they should continue doing it.
Practice is a form of study. It is learning a process and using repetition to keep it locked in your memory for use when you need it. The way you practice matters if you are to get the results you want. I have said before your practice routine needs to be effective following a repetitive action to gain confidence in the skill. The basics of practice must be there even if each of us study differently. For example, my practice partner and I think drastically differently. She is very literal and takes copious notes for everything. I know for a fact I can ask her about a class we took together three years ago, and she will be able to tell me what color paints she used the exact pencils and show me her color swatches. Me, well, I am the exact opposite--I know I did the class because I posted my completed project on my social media, but what colors did I use-- uhh 🤔. Both of our projects looked good so was one method better than the other? Ok I'm going to fill in the answer here with a resounding “no”. What mattered was we both practiced. What is important about your method is understanding who you are and how you study best so that you will have an effective practice.
My practice partner Kathy and I have been coloring together for a few years now. Over the years I have learned that we are very different on how we approach projects. Both of us like learning which is one of the reasons we have stuck together as practice partners for so long. I also have to say we have rubbed off on each other too along the way as I have incorporated more planning in my practice routine, and she has loosened up and will now try new things. Still we think differently and need to practice differently.
When Kathy practices a technique, she will start out by reading everything about the technique and then analyze each part of it. She takes time to analyze every color she will use by pulling out her pencils from her numerical order pencil case. She takes notes of what she learned or things to be cautious of, so she doesn't set herself up to making mindless mistakes in her practice. All of this mentally prepares her to practice the technique effectively. I have to say I wish my brain worked like that because she always has all the bases covered. I can imagine what she was like in school--the girl you wanted to sit next to in class because she has all the notes and resources you need to do well on the test. Seriously though this process is very effective for her when she practices. I have watched her do drills of the technique she takes her time and makes deliberate strokes following the rules of the technique perfectly. She repeats the drill again and again until she has it ingrained.
For me on the other hand I'm the exact opposite. Although I do study the technique my process is different. I like to watch people do the technique. I read up on how to do the technique the correct way but then I search the internet to see how other people do it. I like to see how people handle it, what I think they do right, and what I think they do wrong. I make mental notes of what not to do and what to stay focused on. Then I do my drills. I am not that organized either, so I will just grab for pencils that look good. I typically have no idea what the exact color is or the pencil’s number, but I do pay attention to the brand of pencil because I know it will act differently on paper. For me I just know I am using a blue Polychromos or a red Prismacolor pencil, which is enough detail to know. When I practice my drills, I do them quick because I am trying out different things like changing up colors or changing up my pencil pressure just to see what happens. During drills I need to see how far I can take the technique. I look at what are the real failures and what were surprised successes. The ones I like I repeat them a few more times to where I feel comfortable in reproducing it again in a project.
Although Kathy and I approach our practice from different angles we still found a way to make our practice effective for us. Your practice routine must fit into your own personal way to study. No matter how you practice make sure it follows the basic rules of effective practice:
focus on one technique
self- reflect (assess your work)
repeat the process until you are confident with the skill
What's happening in the Corner . . .
Do you like to color images with people in them? Do you freeze when you get to the point you have to color skin? Don't know if you should approach coloring legs or arms different than a face, what colors to use, or even how to shade skin?
If so, come spend a month with us in the Corner while we will focus our coloring on skin. With practice, you can overcome the fear of coloring skin.
If you are reading this after we moved on to the next technique, you can find the Practice Technique Pack for Skin here.
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