My last blog post was nearly four years ago, and at the time, I was in the early stages of advancing my drawing and painting skills, at the most fundamental level. I wrote about the reasons why here and here.
As I researched ways to technically improve, I sought methods to improve my learning process, as well. One of the standouts of my research was Malcolm Gladwell's theory on 10,000 hours from his book, "The Outliers." In essence, the theory states that people who excel in any given field tend to put a focused amount of time of approximately 10,000 hours, before they achieve a level of excellence. In 2011, I began a training schedule to achieve that number in earnest, as I estimated it would take me seven years at least to reach that mark.
I started the process with drawing studies based off the Bargue book, in addition to attending life drawing sessions at the Art Students League of Denver. I continued my studies by renting instructional art videos, and took several workshops at the Scottsdale Artist's School. I broadened my exposure to different art and cultures by taking trips to Europe in 2012 and 2016. Though the diverse range of information was immediate, it took time for me to put these concepts into practice - with every new thing I learned, I had to blow up my existing approach to integrate ideas I found valuable into my process.
The last thing I did (and am still working on, at the time of this writing), and probably the most important, was to commit to completing 100 self-portrait drawings under a notion imparted by John Singer Sargeant where he suggested any painting worth doing required 100 studies. Between the focus required to render a single subject matter 100 times over - something I had never attempted before; I think the most I did previously was maybe 20 - and the goal of achieving 10,000 hours of practice time, I was priming myself to make some major leaps in my artistic skills.
Sure enough, on Saturday, May 27th of this year, I believe I hit that 10,000 hour mark. It was a day where everything I had been learning about drawing and painting came together in a very distinct and beautiful way. It was a day that has changed me forever.