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Miles to Go

"One thing that always stuck out in my mind was the belief in significance of “tenacity over talent.” I really took that to heart, and decided to put in the work. I call it “miles on the brush.” There are no shortcuts to getting good."

Research has been done showing the top experts in various professions spend 10,000 hours in mastering the skills they need. (See the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell) That's 10,000 hours of JUST practice, not of producing the expert work. The mediocre people spent barely 2000 hours of practice. Since I want to be very good, if not a master expert of my art someday, I need to put in time in practicing the skills I need as a watercolor artist.

I have a lot of miles to go, which is an appropriate analogy, since the pencil drawing above is of Samrah, a beautiful black Arabian mare, with whom I rode many miles of trail during endurance riding competitions. I drew this for a Natural History Illustration class, for which I felt accountable for hours of practice. The class helped me remember the importance of lots of practice, as well as feedback, in becoming more skilled in capturing what I observed.

I've also been inspired to actively develop my skills as a result of monthly gatherings of watercolor artists. We are artists of different skill levels, and we all come with our art to share, discuss, get feedback and learn from each other.

I feel liberated in my art, and in life, to choose to be constantly learning, putting in the miles and understanding that talent is a journey, rather than an inborn trait.

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