I was inspired by Josh Kaufman’s book, The First 20 Hours, to learn a new skill. According to the book, if you follow the right approach, you can become decently good at any skill with 20 hours of deliberate practice.
- Deconstructing – the smallest possible sub-skill
- Learning – Practice intelligently and able to self-correct
- Removing – Any physical, mental, emotional barriers
- Practicing – At least 20 hours of dedicated practice
I picked drawing because I wanted to do something creative and outside of my normal range of activities.
I searched around and decided to follow Monika Zagrobelna’s free online guide. This tutorial really stood out because it deconstructed the skills to a super basic level. The exercises were easy to follow, though hard to do really well.
I was also influenced by Josh Waitzkin’s book, The Art of Learning. He recommends focusing on depth over breadth and internalizing the most fundamental units of skill. The tutorial is broken into three sections: manual skills, precision, and visual database. I spend about 10 hours on part one, and five hours on each of the other sections. I didn’t make it very far on the third section though.
I felt pretty good about the first section, but really inadequate on the other two. If I wanted to really get serious, I could easily see myself spending much more time on the last two sections. For this particular project, I just wanted to see how far I could get with 20 hours.
I wanted to see my progress so on the first day, I drew a mini football helmet and redrew it as I hit 19 hours and 30 minutes. In the beginning, I felt really depressed. It seemed like it was shaping out to really suck. It was discouraging, but I decided I came this far so I might as well finish this last part.
As I started working, I started noticing little things. I could tell when a line didn’t quite match with what I was looking at. As I drew, I knew how to draw lightly before committing with a darker line. I started looking at everything as small shapes and focusing on where things were in relation to other things.
The end result was very emotionally rewarding. I’m not an artistic person and seeing the improvement was very gratifying. If I had to do it again, I’d allocate some time every 7-10 days to just drawing so I can see incremental improvements. It’s not particularly rewarding only seeing your lines and shapes get better.
I’ve uploaded all my practice in the album above.
Link to Book Notes: