“Wow. I can barely draw stick figures.”

As an artist, If I had a dollar for every time I heard that, I think I might have my student loans paid off by now.

Let me tell you a secret… I couldn’t always paint/draw/(insert whatever craft you have never tried or haven’t tried since middle school here) like this. In fact, I am STILL learning how to be a better artist and teacher.

Want to know some things I can’t do? I can’t play the piano. I can’t play sports. I can’t do certain artistic things, like blowing glass and carving wood. But that’s only half true. It’s not really that I CAN’T do those things, it’s that I choose not to spend the time doing them. It doesn’t really matter if I’m not “gifted” in a certain area – if I spend enough time working on that skill, chances are I’m going to improve. I might want to do certain things, but do I really want to take the time to learn them? I wish I could play the violin… but not really. What I want is for the violin fairy to visit me and sprinkle me with Juilliard-worthy skills – with absolutely no practice what so ever on my part.

Do you know how many hours it takes to be an expert in your field? 10,000 hours. HOLY guac. That’s 20 hours a week, for 10 years. I’m just guessing that I’ve spent 2,000-2,500 hours painting, drawing, and doing other arts. I might have spent a little more or less time, but I’m just estimating here. To put it into perspective, one of my favorite paintings series of 6 pieces took me about 150 hours to complete. That’s a lot of time, a lot of learning, a lot of messing up. It’s a lot of critiques, a lot of late nights, a HECK of a lot of coffee.

On top of all this time, did I also mention that I PAID to receive quality instruction to teach me how to become a better artist? What if you visited your dentist and told him, “Wow, you did a great job on my cleaning. I can barely brush my teeth.” It sounds silly, right? You expect them to be good at their job. They went to school for 8 years, so they’d better know what they’re doing. Sure, you could be a dentist. But do you really want to be a dentist?

What is something that you have you spent 1,000 hours practicing? Do you feel qualified to teach others about this topic? Do you still feel like you have more to learn?

You don’t need to downplay your own skills when you compliment others. It doesn’t make me feel better when you tell me that you aren’t good at things, and it won’t make you feel better either. It’s okay to not be good at something. That’s why we’re gifted in different areas, because no one can truly excel at everything. But if you have a desire to get better at something, practice.

How many hours have you spent drawing and painting? Would you like to spend more? Then do it! What’s stopping you? I’d love to teach you.