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  • Gavin O'Donoghue

Mastering Art: The Science of Efficient Practice

In art, practice is critical to improving one's skills. However, not all practice methods are created equal. This article will explore the science behind efficient practice and how it can help artists develop their skills five times faster. Drawing inspiration from a YouTube video by artist Ahmed Aldoori, we will delve into the importance of learning effectively and share practical tips for committing information to long-term memory.

Understanding Memory:

To improve in any art form, artists must learn and remember vast amounts of information – from fundamental techniques to advanced concepts. Unfortunately, our brains have limited short-term memory slots that fill quickly when overloaded with new data. This results in valuable knowledge being lost or forgotten over time.

Transferring information from short-term memory to the long-term memory is crucial to optimize learning retention and ensure progress as an artist. But how do we achieve this?

Practicing Efficiently:

1. Eliminate Distractions:

During study sessions or artistic practices, distractions such as checking social media or messages can significantly hinder concentration and focus. To maximize efficiency, create a dedicated environment free from distractions where your sole focus is on practicing art.

2. Avoid Multitasking:

Research suggests that Multitasking leads to poor attention span and decreased productivity due to increased distraction. By focusing on one task at a time - drawing or painting - you can give your undivided attention and produce higher-quality work.

3. Take Regular Breaks:

Our attention spans naturally diminish after 10-20 minutes of intense focus before requiring a break for optimal performance again. Therefore, taking short breaks (2-5 minutes) every 20-30 minutes allows us to recharge our mental capacities while maintaining overall productivity during more extended practice periods.

Efficient Learning Techniques:

Now that we understand the importance of practicing efficiently let's explore five effective learning techniques to help retain information and accelerate artistic growth.

1. Deconstruction:

To truly understand a subject, it is essential to deconstruct it. This involves breaking down complex concepts into simpler components or principles. For example, when learning how to draw faces, an artist should analyze the underlying structure of the head, study basic shapes and proportions, and explore facial muscles and their functions.

2. Recall:

Recalling information from memory reinforces learning by actively engaging with the subject matter. After studying or practicing a specific skill, try to recreate it without referencing external sources. By doing so, you challenge your brain to remember details accurately while solidifying knowledge in long-term memory.

3. Self-Critique:

Comparing your work with references or previous drawings allows for self-critique – identifying areas where improvement is needed. Analyzing differences between your artwork and reference material helps identify mistakes or forgotten elements, enhancing understanding of the subject matter.

4. Quality Sleep:

Sleep plays a vital role in forming memory. When we sleep, our brains process information learned during waking hours and effectively transfer it from short-term memory into long-term memory storage. Ensure you sleep well each night to optimize retention of newly acquired skills.

5. Spaced Repetition:

Repetition strengthens neural connections within the brain by strategically reinforcing learned information over time.

When practicing art techniques or concepts regularly for weeks/months/years (s), artists reinforce what they have previously learned while deepening their understanding.

With consistent spaced repetition practices applied diligently over extended periods, artists can create lasting neural pathways dedicated specifically towards art fundamentals/techniques, resulting in improved recall ability, leading to accelerated progress and more creativity as neuroplasticity improves, allowing for better problem-solving skills.


Becoming an accomplished artist requires dedication and efficient practice methods that maximize learning retention while minimizing wasted effort. Artists can optimize their focus and productivity during practice sessions by eliminating distractions, avoiding Multitasking, and taking regular breaks.

mastering the art of practice is about committing to consistent effort, being patient with yourself, and finding joy in the process. Don't be discouraged by setbacks or the illusion of perfection that social media can create. Remember, every expert was once a beginner who practiced consistently. So, what activity will you choose to practice today? Start small, but start now.

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