Wonder Woman: Deliberate Practice

Because of all my struggles with these drawings, and with lots of help from Peak by Anders Ericsson, I’ve gotten more serious with my practice.

Dan Coyle, who wrote The Talent Code and The Little Book of Talent, says this about Anders: “The science of excellence can be divided into two eras: before Ericsson and after Ericsson. His groundbreaking research, captured in this brilliantly useful book, provides us with a blueprint for achieving the most important and life-changing work possible: to become a little bit better each day.”

Basically the book Peak is all about purposeful and deliberate practice. This is the type of practice you do if you want to actually get better at anything with as much velocity as possible. Here is a break down of purposeful practice.

“Purposeful practice has well-defined, specific goals.”

How, specifically (!), do you intend to improve in this practice session? What will you do? In short: We need to identify our long-term goals, break it down into mini-goals and then take baby steps in pursuit of that goal. It all starts with a specific goal. A target.

“Purposeful practice is focused.”

“Purposeful practice involves feedback.”

“Purposeful practice requires getting out of one’s comfort zone.”

And deliberate practice is all the above but with a teacher and a very clear training program. I don’t have a teacher, if you don’t count my bookshelf full of art books, but I do have a clear training program.

Here is my current method.

Deliberate Practice

  1. Make tea. (because I like to drink tea while I work)
  2. Do Burpees. (I always exercise before doing anything important, science shows that it gets the brain working at it’s best)
  3. Review training program.
    1. What is your Wildly Important Goal? (this is the motivation for everything I do)
    2. Can you get there and are you willing to pay the price? (from Scott Adams amazing book, How to fail at almost everything and still win big)
    3. What are the many paths you have to get there? (from Making Hope happen by Shane J. Lopez PHD and Nassim Taleb’s great book, Antifragile)
    4. What is today’s step in that direction? (my super important goal broken down into daily steps guaranteeing I will get there.)
  4. How can today’s step have feedback? (I don’t want to do something random that I can’t measure)
  5. Get out of your comfort zone. (Peak)
  6. Have Intense focus. (Peak)
  7. Set up space for practice. (always organize my area before and after each session, it’s also my work space for my regular job)
  8. 5 controlled breathes. (breathing exercises from Optimize.me)
  9. Do my drawing warmup. (haven’t done this in forever, but it’s a good practice for dexterity)
  10. PERFORM!
  11. Provide Immediate feedback during and afterwards. (I step away from my work or use my cell phone for instant feedback, and review on my blog afterwards.)
    1. What went well?
    2. What needs work?
    3. What did I learn and how can I improve?
  12. Stay motivated!

So, for today’s drawing of Gal Gaddot I did much better than yesterday because I took my time and focused hard on getting her face as accurate as possible before I did any shading or used any softer pencils.

But, I have issues with this drawing.

  1. The drawing is too large which makes filling in the hair a huge chore. I can make it a bit smaller but not too small I don’t wan the texture of the paper to overpower the details.
  2. I was very timid with this drawing and not much of myself is in it.
  3. My timidity prevented me from bumping up the contrast.

How can I improve for next session?

  1. Figure out the perfect size for this drawing. It’s going to be a full figure and will be digitally shrunk for a book.
  2. Go for it and trust myself. Keep up the intense focus and make these my authentic drawings. If I have to do 50 more of these to get it right than so be it. I’m willing to pay that price.
  3. Look at the values in the photo and compare them to her eyes, get them as close and as accurate as the drawing.

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