A few posts ago I wrote about how introverts are normal people (gasp!) and introduced you to Susan Cain's warm and informative book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. I wanted to revisit it to talk about Deliberate Practice, a concept that the author gives credit to researcher psychologist Anders Ericsson for identifying and describing.
Deliberate Practice is another way of saying "lots of time spent alone working on whatever it is that you're passionate about"—athletics, music, chess, oil painting, drawing. Whatever it is that you're striving to get good at the more time you spend, alone, tackling it, the better you will do, according to the idea of deliberate practice. Indeed, Anders has identified Deliberate Practice as "the key to exceptional achievement."
"When you practice deliberately," Cain writes, "you identify the tasks or knowledge that are just out of your reach, strive to upgrade your performance, monitor you progress, and revise accordingly."
Well, why not do this in a fun, noisy, gregarious, extrovert group? Because Deliberate Practice takes intense concentration, something that is not conducive to group situations, Ericcson, through Cain, explains. It also requires deep motivation—self-generated—again, not something you find in a group. When you work in a group, you subvert your interests and passions to, generally, the interests and passions of the group, at best, but sometimes just the loudest person in the group.
What does this mean for you as an oil painting artist? Well first, it should take the pressure off of you feeling that you're unsociable and unfriendly because you crave studio time. You need studio time. And second, it emphasizes the tremendous importance of learning how to paint on your own. Go ahead, use oil painting art resources, we're not vacuums after all, but don't ultimately depend on those resources or oil painting techniques alone to guide you. Glean from them what works, identify what doesn't, and get to work—painting, painting, painting.
Deliberate practice. What a concept.