A couple weeks ago I posted about quantity v. quality. As I said in that post, I firmly believe that quantity leads to quality. But this week I wanted to think beyond quantity, beyond just practice. What other factors lead to quality?
This is my short list. These are the things I've noticed and the ones I think work:
effort - Sure you could make a painting a day and not improve your quality, if you aren't also putting in the effort. Effort has to top my list because without it quantity doesn't work. You can't just go through the motions. It has to come from a desire to get better. Are you putting in the effort every single time?
my favorite word grit - Quality comes from sticking with it through some pretty awful times. You don't give up, you keep coming back for more. Are you persistent over the long haul? Do you have grit?
quality of your supplies - Cheap supplies often lead to frustration. You are trying to push the materials to do things they aren't made to do. I was taught to use the best quality supplies that I can consistently afford. So for me that's usually mid-range, not student quality but not top of the line. I could buy a few top line materials but here's something to think about. If you are worried about the expense of those materials, it'll show in your work. You'll work from a scarcity mentality. When working on a $50 sheet of watercolor paper, my muscles tense up. I second-guess my marks because I know I can't undo it. It never ends well. Are you using the best quality supplies that you can consistently afford?
story/emotion - We are naturally drawn toward stories and emotion. We want art that makes us feel something. Does your work mean something, at least to you? Bonus points if it's also meaningful to others.
reflection/evaluation - You aren't gaining any ground if you keep making the same mistakes or don't have a clear plan to move forward. You can shorten the path to quality by reflecting on your process and evaluating your work. Do you take time (say monthly) to reflect and evaluate? And then do you use that information to set goals, make decisions, etc.?
We had another great discussion in the year of creative habits Facebook group. Here's a few other ideas from those in our group as to what leads to quality:
consistency - having a set time to work and a dedicated space
keen observation - being awake to what's around you
curiosity and playfulness
experimenting - trying new things, learning new techniques, learning from others
failing - If you haven't failed, you aren't trying hard enough
study/research - you can also learn from others' successes and failures
confidence - trust and believe in yourself
take and use criticism
So your turn! Besides practice/quantity, what else leads to quality?