Should you try and learn everything?

©2011 Cathy Read - Nautical Values -39 x 30cm-Acrylic on Canvas

Is it possible to do everything?

©2011 Cathy Read - Nautical Values -39 x 30cm-Acrylic on Canvas
©2011 Cathy Read – Nautical Values -39 x 30cm-Acrylic on Canvas

The answer of course is No…

…and yet we still try.

I’ve a strong desire to try my hand at new things. And there is nothing wrong with trying new things. To avoid the new is to stagnate and fail to grow as an artist and an individual.

Learning a new skill can motivate and energise your work.

But, it can also send you off in a tangental direction. One which curtails the full development of your current practice. So that potentially great work will never be created. Finding the balance is difficult.

There comes a time in your life when you realise you can’t do everything!

As a teenager I was keen to learn every technique going. I’m far more selective now. Yes, I want to learn new things, but not at the expense of my achievements so far.

No matter how interesting or exciting, there is only so much one person can study effectively.

Jack of all trades master of none! That’s true in any profession!

In art it means that much as you might want to master oil paint. The hours of study might be better spent improving your blending skills for watercolour! Why?

Because that’s where your talent will excel.

To achieve anything of note you must focus and perfect. Yes, you need to develop a strategy of embracing new ideas. But while identifying and blocking out those which are wrong for you.

The appropriate term is “Planned neglect”!

Concentrating on those things for which you have talent and passion. The direction is down to you. But you must study in depth and truly explore. Only then will realise full potential and expertise.

Which direction are you pulled towards and what are you consciously neglecting?



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3 Replies to “Should you try and learn everything?”

  1. I’m also guilty of wanting to try everything (not just painting, pretty much everything in life 🙂 ). I love the idea of planned neglect and will keep it in mind. Thanks!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Helen. We all need a little planned neglect in our lives. It allows us to focus on what’s important.

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