Why how-to books will only take you so far

art books

How often do you buy ‘how to’ books hoping they’ll magically unlock a new skill or ability for you, only for you to never use them again?

I’m terrible for buying new books. I love books – I have entire crates of them in my garage.

But I particularly keep buying books for arts and crafts. This is just a small selection of my art books – I’ve also got titles about making jewellery with both wire and paracord, a whole host of knitting books, crochet titles, how to make Gothic jewellery, and many more!

I do use the knitting and crochet books as inspiration, either making the patterns as they are, or learning the techniques to use in my own patterns for the items in my Etsy shop. But the art books? I look through them, and envy the abilities of their authors, but I keep finding excuses not to actually try the exercises they include.

I seem to think that the books hold the secret to mastering the technique, but I’m wrong.

If I’m going to master something, reading every book I can find about it will only take me so far. If I’m ever going to improve, I need to actually put what I’ve read into practice.

I’ve wanted to learn watercolour painting for a while now, and I started trying to teach myself from books. I came up with a host of excuses as to why I couldn’t do a given thing, and eventually I saw that the Laing Art Gallery in town were running three watercolour workshops. I did the first two, on Landscapes and Seas & Skies, and boy, what a difference it made!

Going to a class gave me the opportunity to try what I’d previously only read about.

I’ve got a long way to go, but just simply trying the techniques after watching the instructor demonstrate them gave me the confidence to actually paint, instead of putting it off in case whatever I did wasn’t any good. I had to put a brush to paper, or there was no point being there, and it was good getting instant feedback. After all, YouTube videos and books are great, but you can’t ask a video questions.

So I’ve decided to make myself a pact that I won’t buy any more how-to books until I’ve actually worked my way through the ones that I’ve got. If I follow them all then there’s a good chance I won’t actually need any more!

How many how-to books do you own that you’ve never followed? Let me know in the comments below!

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