About this Blog

Throughout my years as a school teacher, school administrator and a county Principal-in-Residence, I thought constantly about two questions,

  • How do people learn?
  • How can we help people learn better, faster, deeper?

Now, as a new retiree, I wonder, ‘Why don’t I draw better?’ I have kept a sketchbook for nearly 50 years but have not progressed much in my ability to tell a story through image. If practice makes perfect, and I have practiced for 50 years, shouldn’t I be quite adept? My slow growth is evident in my work since 6/14 on my Pinterest site, as well as in my sketchbooks across these 50 years.

Through this blog I plan to apply what I know about improving learning in a school setting to improving my own work as a sketchbook artist. It has been widely observed that many of us improve to a point and then do not improve further. More practice is not sufficient. Even 10,000 hours of practice is not sufficient. The thinking is that growth requires clear goals, deliberate practice, feedback, and summary of learning- and this means doing more than doing an activity we already do for the fun of it.

I am a believer in the importance of clear goals with specific criteria for success, with practice directed at the success criteria and with feedback about the outcome of the practice. I have seen first hand what a difference these can make to learners in a classroom. A question I am investigating is, Can I use these principles to improve my sketches?

My goal is to apply these principles to my goal of communicating ideas through images by improving my technical skills with compositional elements- line, gesture, value, color, light, arrangement, facial expression, body language, exaggeration, realism, and abstraction.

My method will be to select an element to study each week. I will decide on a learning goal, establish success criteria for the goal and then practice it throughout the week. I will blog about my learning and seek feedback from myself and others. As a result, I will be expecting fluency and effectiveness as an expressive artist.

Sarah Sullivan

June 2015

5 Responses to About this Blog

  1. munyingnying says:

    You are inspiring! I am starting to sketch again with the goal to improve (‘just finished one this morning!). I just wish I have more time! Thanks for sharing your process of learning in each of your posts–I keep them in mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sarah- I love the thoughtfulness of your site and artwork. Now that you have been at it (deliberate practice) for a year+, do you think it’s working? Are you more satisfied with your sketches and progress? As an artist and educator, I’m very curious about your approach. Thanks for sharing your journey.


    • Hi Jenny,
      I am so sorry that I miss your comment. Except that it seems unlikely, I would claim your comment just now appeared in my queue! I enjoy your blog and am excited you read mine. It is a little late, but here is a reply.
      On the technical side I am clearly making progress and believe it accelerated when I started taking classes this past fall. A look back into my blog and further back into my sketchbooks makes me confident I have grown. As far as communicating an idea with images, I think I am still at the same level and am looking for a breakthrough.
      Writing down a question or goal to work on helps me. I put it on a white board just as I did when I taught. When I follow through, stay focused and then examine the outcome and force myself to give words to what I did and what I think about it, I feel it makes me more observant and more fluent.
      Does this answer your questions?

      Liked by 1 person

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