10,000 hours

‘The Journey’ – 7″x9″
Southwest of Calgary, AB along Highway 22
Oil on Canvas  • SOLD
by Cheryl Peddie.

My morning coffee didn’t do the trick today. As I found my eyes getting heavier, my motivation to get to the studio began to fade. Then my Monday morning blues hit. My brain began to whirl – why on earth was I trying to ‘be’ an artist in the first place – after all how many artists really get anywhere with their craft anyways? Isn’t this really just a pipe dream? And besides, after all the years I’ve been painting if my work was ‘good enough’ wouldn’t I be selling tons of it already? With these questions nagging at me, I went looking for some inspiration online. Happily I found it. But maybe not in the places one would expect. I found it in Malcolm Gladwell’s theory of 10,000 hours. From his book ‘Outliers‘, the premise goes that it takes 10,000 hours to truly master a skill.

Well I thought, surely I’m nearly there. Even though painting was primarily just a hobby of mine for the first 7 years or so, surely the last few years of working at it more seriously have made up for it. And after that many years, wouldn’t my lack of results still prove that I should just hang up my brushes? Not being a math whiz I dug out my calculator. The results left me a little gobsmacked. Even with generous approximations of the number of hours I’ve spent painting over the last 15 years, my total came to just slightly over one-fifth of that golden 10,000 hour mark – 2640 hours to be ‘approximately exact’.

Although I was a little floored to realize I still had over 7000 or so hours to go, I also felt a little lifted. Suddenly I didn’t expect to ‘prove’ myself through the dauntingly blank canvas that waits on my easel. If it turns out to be a dud and ends up a frisbee, (hurtling through my studio towards the garbage can) it won’t mean I’m not a ‘good’ artist. It will only mean that being a creative person is a journey. A journey in which success doesn’t mean creating a masterpiece each time I step into the studio. Success means stepping into the studio. Every hour, every day, every week, every year.

In fact my whole thought process reminded me of a conversation I had with a fellow at Galleria, while I was doing a painting demonstration there this weekend. The nice man asked me if I believed that creativity and artistic talent was a ‘gifted’, innate thing, or if it was something that could be learned. I replied that I truly believed it could be learned. And that if there was a ‘gift’, I believed it was the gift of having enough desire for it. So much desire that we’re willing to spend enough time at our art to become proficient at it. I guess I should have taken my own advice!

So in contrast to how my morning began, I’m heading to my studio, anticipating success. Every hour of it!

PS – the painting above was finished just this past Thursday. (Hour 2635) Thanks for reading! Cheryl Peddie.

3 thoughts on “10,000 hours

  1. epic! nicely done.. maybe you will get to 4900 by the time you turn 49… where is the tipping point going to be?! .. i want the piece you paint in the hours 7777-7800 ‘approximately’! lol you are my inspiriation cher! MWAH.. i am counting up my writing hours!

Leave a Reply