How to Study and Improve Rapidly Pt. I: Theory vs Knowledge

In the past few years there's been an absolute explosion of accessible art technique tutorials and classes. Youtube, Gumroad, Schoolism, etc. Buried admits endless high quality videos you can't help but shout out "but where do I start!?" as the next tutorial falls on your head and suffocates you. Just as you think it might be the end, you see the light. A hand reaches down to pull you out of the tutorial hoarding disaster, I'm here, and everything will be alright now.

The remedy to this is simple. If you want to improve your production of finished works and learning efficiency you must do the following:

1. Prepare: Decision (why) Grab reference images if necessary. (10%)

1. Taking action (80%)

2. Supplement action with relevant knowledge (10%)

Repeat step 1. 

That's it, really. You can stop reading now.

But if you want to read a little more: the theory is that if you sit in front of a screen or book trying to absorb information you have 0 context for you will almost certainly forget it immediately. Your brain hasn't build up enough functional knowledge to process it on anything more than an abstract level. No matter how hard you try you can't read yourself into drawing well. That's why this solution is so beautiful. We need a process to prime our brain to receive the knowledge.

(1) We begin with a decision. Why do I want to make this, where do I want to take it? There is hardly a right answer to this, so don't over think it too much. Grab the references that will be vital to your work. IE. the photo of the subject. 

(2) Then take action. Sketching, planning, exploring, designing and executing your image

(3) You may realize after this large chunk of initial action you may have problem areas. Things that you haven't a clue how to deal with. This is what you need to study. Go ahead and watch the video you need or open the book to that specific section.

Now you return to taking action. It can be highly beneficial to do studies at this point until you have a working understanding you can bring into your original image. 

This of course is no hard or fast law but the concept can save you from countless hours of watching videos, pointless studies or wandering aimlessly through a more complex work. Use common sense, you don't need to be literal with the steps. Now you know the level of action you need to be taking to produce.

Your homework now is to go take immediate action. Sit down, ask yourself what kind of image you want to make and then take action. Keep it simple and don't go too crazy.