The Open Window: The Gift of Practice

72.Q.fullpencilThe Gift of Practice. A guest post by Quinn McDonald

Practice is not a popular concept in our world today. Practice means admitting that you will not get immediately perfect results. In the classes we take, we want to leave with a gift-quality completed project. Journal pages must be worked to perfect completion. Journals with practice pages get doubtful looks. No wonder gesso is such an important tool—it hides mistakes and we can call it a layer. We hate mistakes. We want that first-time perfect.

Let me whisper softly to you: I have made more mistakes than you. I have discovered the secret to beautiful journal pages and it is called “practice.” OK, painting over with gesso works, too. But there is a path to beautiful, completed art work, and involves practice, time, and patience. The trifecta of what we don’t want to give. Every creative activity benefits from practice. You can dedicate a few journal pages (or canvases or dance time) to practice and survive. It will help remind you that it wasn’t great the first time, although by time three it was improving.

Practice isn’t meant to be punitive. Practice is writing or drawing (or building or stitching) on a piece of paper until your hand understands what its doing. The proportions come together and your fingers get a chance to think. Expecting instant perfection results in disappointment, every time.

Still doubting the value of practice? Move the idea you have about yourself to someone else. Want a dentist who has never done a root canal to start with you because he’s passionate about root canals? Want the first-timer flying your plane? Suddenly practice makes a lot more sense.

Years ago, I walked into a Tae Kwon Do dojang (studio), eager to learn. I asked the Sensei how long I would have to study to achieve a black belt. He looked at me calmly and said, “Five years.” I was horrified. “Five years! I’ll be 37 years old then!” I stammered.

Sensei Lee looked at me calmly. “You will be 37 years old anyway,” he said. And after five years of practice, I earned a black belt. Practice brings gifts of understanding, slowing down, empathy, and self-acceptance. Don’t shortchange yourself in your creative practice. Delight in it.


Raw Art Journaling 150Quinn McDonald is a mixed media journaler and creativity coach who helps artists through transitions in their lives. Quinn’s book, Raw Art Journaling: Making Meaning, Making Art is published by North Light. She is working on her second book for North Light Books.




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One Response to The Open Window: The Gift of Practice

  1. lizzi472002 says:

    Inspiration is dripping from the heavens… LOVE THIS PAGE