Pam and I had been married only a short time, when I felt like I was stuck in a rut as Art Director at an advertising agency. The downside was a total disconnect from my God-given talents, and a disillusion with the whole creative process. I did a complete about-face, left the field, and we moved to Houston where I took a job as far away from art as I could get. I’d say Liability Adjustor for Farmer’s Insurance is a pretty huge leap, wouldn’t you?
Long story short, this was the impetus I needed to re-discover my priorities and seek a way back to my passion. (In another instance of God’s Infinite Wisdom, I learned valuable tools during my tenure at Farmer’s that would later help in my art career, but that’s a future blog).
Feeling I wanted to do it right this time, and seeking some inspiration, I ordered Tony Robbins’ first motivational cassette series, called “Unlimited Power.”
The substance of his plan was threefold: #1 – Find your passion, #2 – Be good at your passion by repeating it until it becomes a skill, and #3 – Take that skill and make it a profession.
Sounds simple, right? Today I want to focus on the second principle of his plan.
Generally, most everyone who might come to this blog will know that their passion is art, or in some field of creativity. And I think, that as artists, we all can agree that one of our goals is to increase our skill.
Tony Robbins says something in “Unlimited Power” that has stuck with me throughout the years: “Repetition is the Mother of Skill”. For an artist, nothing truer has ever been said.
Any great discipline, whether it’s painting, music, dance or sports requires 7 to 10 specific skills, that if they’re mastered, will allow you to perform at a high level.
Time and again you see people who want to skip the fundamentals and jump straight to “the good stuff”. Let’s face it, fundamentals are boring. Repetitive drawing, if done sloppily and incorrectly, is boring.
But if art is your passion, then you must figure out what you passionately want to say with your art. What is the subject matter that touches your heart? What images are you drawn to? What can’t you get out of your mind?
You’re going to have to use repetition to perfect your skills, so you might as well be drawing something that you never get tired of. You’ll never be bored.
Repeating the basics is all you have to do to become a master craftsman. It’s that simple. Find your passion and repeat fundamentals until you’re highly skilled.
Here’s something to think about: If you do a major drawing 365 times in a year (that’s one a day), I promise you that the 365th one will be easier, better and faster than the first one.
Why? Because repetition allows you to improve your skills. And I’m not talking about rote repetition here, either. It’s not like writing, “I will draw every day” on the blackboard 365 times. Repetition has to be self-critiqued and pushed by you! Repetition without self-critique is a waste of time, pencil and paper. Repetition with a will to improve is POWER.
Tony Robbins said, “If you do what you’ve always done, your results will be what you’ve always gotten.” Tony Robbins is right! Increase your skills by repeating the fundamentals and improving with each attempt. Now go for it!
The paintings displayed in this blog are of my good friend, and one of my favorite subjects, Mark Kirkpatrick. Because I am passionate about painting him, I am never bored, and my body of work includes numerous paintings of Mark. The repetition has resulted in a familiarity and a level of skill that refines each succeeding painting.
All content and images © Mark Kohler Studio.