Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sweet Dreams of Drawing (Become a Better Artist Part 5)


This week I recommended something that doesn't have much to do with art, but it's great for listening while you work, and was the root inspiration for this blog post.

RadioLab the podcast

In particular I STRONGLY RECOMMEND the episode on SLEEP. Please listen to the whole thing, you will have a very strong understanding of what I cover in this post.

(This is the final article based on a previous post Become a Better Artist Overnight, Which I recommend you read first. So, let's finally put an end to this, shall we?)

Sleep on it: (This is how you learn overnight)

Third cup of coffee; your eye jitters as you try to keep your blistered fingers steady. One more drawing, just one more and I'll get it right this time. You lift up your arm to check your wristwatch and spend an embarrassing amount of time gazing into a pale patch of empty skin. you remember how you stopped waring watches years ago in exchange for all things electronic.

The computer tells you... 3:15am. "I pushed too hard, and didn't accomplish my goals. I give up." you think to yourself. Time to rest.

Sleeping through your alarm you wake late in the morning. Your routine leads you back to the desk that left you so cold the night before. Jumping back in to the study, you find things to be easier. Your hand seems lock in to place. It makes sense now but how can this be? It this magic?

Well, the real magic happens when we catch some shuteye. "A 2010 Harvard study suggested that dreaming may reactivate and reorganize recently learned material, which would help improve memory and boost performance"  Sleep is also essential in the creative process. Ideas that seemed too hard to grasp days before, come to you in a flash. This is why it's common for creative individuals throughout history to have answers to hard questions appear to them in a dream. From writers such as Robert Louis Stevenson to scientists like Dmitri Mendeleev sleep was the catalyst that changed their disjointed ideas in to clear reality. 

Why does this happen?

The major theory is that when you sleep your brain washes over your memories from the day. The things that you focused on built strong connections where as the things you didn't focus on built weak ones. This develops a buildup of neural paths that confuse the mind and make it difficult to achieve your desired skill. During the night the tangles of disjointed pathways get washed away, leaving behind the few strong ones giving a clearer path to the behaviors you worked to develop.

You may now understand how people can become very good at what they do. Each day they focus on improvement equals a night of deeper neural structures. Before long it becomes literally a part of you.

In other words, don't skimp on the sleep. Try to develop a schedule that allows for a quality 7-8 hours a night. Without sleep not only will you slowly become insane and die, but you won't learn the skills you worked so hard to acquire.

So, that concludes my series on how to Become a Better Artist Overnight. I'm hoping at this point that title will make much more sense to you. Also, I want to thank everyone who took the journey with me down this windy road. I know I kinda threw a lot of info at you, but I'm sure you can take it.

I hope this helps everyone become better at whatever they do and maybe develop a good relationship with their dreams.


P.S. Here's a video I did this week on Building Volume Quickly in 2D. Enjoy-->

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