In their book, Art & Fear, Ted Orland and David Bayles wrote, “The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work, they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality…. Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. it seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work—and learning from their mistakes—the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and piles of dead clay.”
Ever since I took up BS Architecture two years ago (even without prior experience in coloring and drawing), one of the many realizations that I had is that my blocmates are skilled in rendering and drawing better than I am (not a surprise) not because they have talent and I don’t have it or God has favorites and unfortunately, I am not. But rather, it is because they have done it a thousand times or even more.
Our pastor shared a story from the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Jiro Ono, a Japanese chef who is considered around the world as the best sushi maker, had a new apprentice. Jiro told him to cook an egg. He cooked one and showed it to Jiro but after looking at it for only a few seconds, Jiro rejected it and told him to try again. This went on for two years. Until finally, Jiro said this is okay.
Jiro’s new apprentice wasn’t talented or even started out knowing how to cook a proper egg. In other words, he did not have any advantage. But by doing it for a hundred, probably even a thousand times, for two years, he finally mastered it.
In the same way, my blocmates are extremely great at rendering and drawing because they had put in a lot of work whereas I am just starting out. An article in DO Lectures blog states, “We have to understand doing our best work is a journey. We don’t start off being brilliant. We start off at ‘mediocre’. Then we go to ‘not too bad’. Then we go to ‘OK’. Then we go to ‘good’. Then eventually we arrive at ‘excellent’. And, occasionally we will go to ‘great’.”
Last January, I started learning how to watercolor. Honestly, it terrified me. I feel like I have to watch more YouTube tutorials on how to watercolor before I can finally start doing but it is through doing that I learn and so I started.
It feels frustrating. This gap between how I wanted my work to look like and how my current work looks like. But I become more patient. I cannot go from Level 0 to Level 100 right away. I had to go through each and every level.
Before, whenever I think of using watercolor, I started having anxious thoughts and soon I’ll find myself procrastinating because I’m avoiding this feeling of fear of creating a bad work. Right now, I am extremely comfortable using it that I just picked it up right away whenever I need to render.
Author james Clear wrote, “Your 1st blog post will be bad, but your 100th will be great. Your 1st workout will be weak, but your 1000th will be strong. Your 1st meditation will be scattered, but your 1000th will be focused. Put in your reps.”
There is no secret on how to be great at what you do. Its by doing and putting in a lot of work that we get better. No shortcuts. Just doing.
Whenever I am doing an academic work, there are times when I just blurt, “This is not nice.” but then I’ll remind myself that I am just starting out. I have to create bad work in order to know what’s better. It is by doing something a thousand or a million times that we can be better at it.
It is with quantity that one leads to quality work.