Mastery Through Repetition – Home Decor Online Tips

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Go with the flow. Gentle curves can flow from your compass to your work with a little practice.

Practice is the best of all instructors.

M.aynard lived next door. When he wasn’t turning wrenches at the local Ford garage, he was out in his driveway, hunched over a neighbor’s car.

As a child I spent hours leaning over a fender, watching it perform what felt like magic. I thought he could fix anything and peppered him with questions, but his answers always ended with the same admonition: “It takes practice.” That’s not an answer I wanted to hear then, and to be honest, it’s not what I like to hear today. Who wants to practice? Can’t we just skip it and get to the fun stuff?

There are two schools of thought on how to become a master of an art or craft. Both involve practice.

A notion, established for centuries of traditional apprenticeship, states that mastery depends less on talent than on the simple commitment of time. Writer Malcolm Gladwell says it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to reveal the hidden potential in an average person pursuing excellence in a specific area. This would not surprise our ancestors who trained in traditional apprenticeships, starting around 13, for five or six years before transitioning to blue collar status.

The other approach argues that we take huge strides towards mastery by breaking down core skills into small chunks that can be deliberately practiced over time. Entrepreneur Jim Rohn, no stranger to the concept of success, once wrote: “Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.”

But it’s not just about spending time, it’s about focusing on specific lessons. In fact, we achieve nothing and may even go back by dedicating large chunks of time to the wrong things while ignoring core core skills.

I guess you have seen, like me, carpenters with very high technical skills acquired over many years of effort, but lacking simple design fundamentals to prove their skill. Without a solid foundation of basic design skills, no amount of precise machining can make up for that deficit.

This small-scale practice of basic skills is something we do for life. We could master a fundamental skill, such as proportions, then come back to learn it again when our work evolves in a different place.

Basic skills never change, but our application can change as our skill level progresses. For example, let’s go back to the basic skill of understanding proportions again and again as we explore work at different scales or experiment with organic curves or shapes. The assumption is that if we are to always improve, our basic skills such as drawing will also have to improve. Therefore we are committed to improving those core skills through intentional practice.

The good news is that it is completely possible to improve our skills in rapid steps. The bad news, however, is that mastery – in design or any other skill – is linked to deliberate practice. No one (yet) has come up with a method to instantly turn someone into a great designer. Mastery is a brick by brick structure.

The fundamental skills

Form. Understanding the simple shapes that populate a design is a key skill.

Fortunately, we’re not talking about practicing and mastering a long list of basic skills – five or six is ​​usually enough. For woodworking in general, examples of core skills could be sharpening, rough preparation or carpentry. See how each of these can be broken down into small, easily workable pieces?

If we treat design as an area of ​​mastery, there are six core competencies to focus our attention on: proportions, simple lines and shapes, drawing, space, curves and shapes. Longtime readers of this article will notice my tendency to revisit these skills.

The following is a summary of each basic skill, broken down into small bits.

Proportions are the models we use to tell a story and give the eye points of support within a drawing. They include harmonic proportions to whole numbers and how these models relate to the human form, nature and architecture. Proportions are woven into each core skill and, for this reason, are central to all other skills that follow.

Space out. Add perspective and depth to your imagination through space exploration.

Simple lines and shapes include points, lines, and simple shapes that can be generated with a ruler and compass using simple geometry. They are the basic structure of any project and the building blocks of spatial organization.

Drawing is a visualization skill that can help shape a project. It includes quick freehand conceptual drawing, proportional field studies (examples of real-life drawing or masterpieces in a museum), simple plan and elevation (facade) drawings, and isometric drawings.

Space is the ability to visualize shapes in three dimensions. It is one of the most challenging skills to develop.

Curve refers to the ability to execute designs with gentle, natural curves.

Forms provides the combination of simple shapes, lines, solids and curves in pleasing compositions.


That right curve. We all want to create tempting curves.

Be aware of the practice: Spend regular time focusing on one aspect of a core skill. Practice is a short period of time meant to address a weakness – and that’s it. It is separate from running a project; you won’t produce a finished product, but you have to make it part of your routine. If you have the luxury of a full day in the store, give yourself 20 minutes to practice an area where you want to see improvement. If time is limited, it is still wise (perhaps more so) to schedule a regular practice session.

A practical habit that I have never gotten out of is visiting a museum or a collection of historic furniture for a period of field drawing.

Whether it’s a high-end 18th-century masterpiece, an architectural detail by Greene and Greene, or a beautiful regional piece, just sketch something that grabs your attention. Field studies really increase your observation skills and can reveal details and secrets that you may never notice in a photo.

Field trip. A field study allows you to look over the shoulders of the masters and see the work through their eyes.

You can use the pencil in an outstretched arm to choose the aspect ratio using the method I covered in the February 2012 issue of Popular magazine for woodworking (# 195) to get a realistic proportional sketch. Just make sure you ask for permission before sitting down to render your drawing (but I have yet to get a museum refused, especially when they realize I see their collection as an inspirational resource).

I’ve summed up many of these basic design skills in a single sentence, but don’t let that fool you. Each of these areas contains depths that you can explore for a lifetime!

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