Today, I’d like to talk about focusing on one art theme at a time. Is that a good idea or a bad idea?
This post continues a series of posts based on questions asked by a good friend and fellow artist. These topics are not the “how-to” questions I usually get. But experience proves that if someone asks a question, others often have the same question.
The first post concerned choosing a theme for your art. Now let’s talk about sticking with whatever theme you choose.
Focusing on One Art Theme
Because the question is in two parts, let me answer it two parts. I’ll include the reader’s question for each step.
Part 1: How much do I need to practice a theme?
You’ve. chosen a theme to work on. Now you need to decide how much practice is necessary. How long should you concentrate on that theme? How many drawings should you make?
That’s difficult to say because very artist is different. Every artist draws for different reasons.
The hobby artist draws until tiring of a subject, then they move on. Enjoyment is the primary motivation. Learning is secondary.
The student artist may also draw for enjoyment, but learning is more important. This artist approaches drawing in a different way. They want to learn a new skill or improve an existing skill.
If you’re a student, then you may want to set specific goals. For example, you might work on your chosen theme until you master a specific technique. You might also decide at the beginning to create six pieces of art (or a dozen, or whatever.)
Before setting a goal like this, it’s important to know how you’re most motivated. If doing a lot of individual drawings keeps you going, then that’s what you should do.
On the other hand, if you work best with a time goal (4 weeks, 4 months, a year), then a time goal is the best choice.
Whatever type of goal you set, when you’ve achieved your goal, then you’ve accomplished what you set out to do. You can either set a new goal with the same theme, or move on to another theme.
In other words, practice until you’re satisfied that you’ve learned everything you can learn on that art theme.
Part 2: How narrow should my focus be?
The advantages of focusing on a single theme is that your attention is more focused. For example, if you decide to draw flowers for six months, then every art piece you do will be somehow connected to flowers.
Your attention will not be divided, either. You can make better choices about the videos or tutorials or other materials you choose. For example, if your theme is horses, then you can discard videos about human portraits, florals or landscapes. That makes you more productive.
Focusing on just one subject, even for a limited period of time, helps you apply what you learn more quickly. Every bit of information is dedicated toward learning about the theme or subject.
A Word of Caution
Not everyone learns the same way. I learn better by focusing my attention on one thing. Part of the reason for that is that I need to acquire and apply information at least three times before it takes hold. Sometimes more often.
But focusing on one thing for an extended length of time may bore you to tears. When you get bored, you stop learning.
Let’s say you learn best by studying one thing for a short time, then moving to something else, and then going back to the first thing. Focusing on one theme for weeks at a time or for months isn’t going to help you.
If you learn best by studying more than one thing at the same time, you also will not benefit from focusing on one art theme at a time.
The Bottom Line
As I mentioned above, each one of us learns differently. Before you can answer these two questions for yourself, you need to know how you learn best.
Once you know that, you can more easily decide whether or not to focus on one art theme at a time.
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