Saturday, 27 October 2012

I Think I Need to Get Out More!!!

Ok, the scientist in me has reared it's head again and I have been pondering my world of art for the millionth time!! After my recent "success" at the Brusho workshop it got me thinking about how my progress might go with Brusho and why even if this is a "one painting wonder" I will try, try and try again!!

I did courses on animal behaviour during my studies and then went on to do a course as a mature student on child psychology and one thing that has stuck in my mind was about positive reinforcement. Studies show that the best way to modify, change or encourage certain behaviours is through the technique of reward and positive reinforcement. Now what surprised me most was that reward after each behaviour is not the best way to create the most lasting changes. After a short period of constant reward whilst learning the behaviour, it has been found that intermittent, irregular reward promotes the most consistent response of the required behaviour... in other words, if you want your dog to shake it's paw, after you have achieved the behaviour, the reward should be withdrawn to every so often......the animal always exhibits the behaviour on command as it never know when it will get the treat, so it behaves just in case... clever eh??? Still with me???? If  you happen to be interested in any this psychological stuff which of course I am, you might find my Nature versus Nurture and Right Brain/ Left Brain blogs to your liking.

So how does this relate to me and my painting???? Well I can't say at the beginning I had much positive reinforcement (for me that is not really praise from a tutor, for others could be, but in my case more to do with producing a piece of work that I think is any good), but since I have improved on my journey I think the thing that presses me on now is the not knowing whether the "next" piece will turn out.... the turning out bit being the positive reinforcement, the not knowing being the part which encourages me to pursue the reward. So the elation of the painting makes me want to try again but if I don't achieve the end result (no reward) I am programmed to try again just in case next time I do (irregular, intermittent reward).

Ok maybe I should get out in severe danger of becoming a bit of a geek here......  but I do think it is something tutors need to consider when taking beginners' classes in painting.... the newcomers need to produce something which will encourage them to try again, something simple but something that gives them a glimpse of what they can do. Then maybe they will be encouraged to repeat the behaviour time and time again and as we all know practice makes perfect and the repeated act of painting will help them progress.

Finally,  if you have read to here, I promise, I will get out more!!!


  1. My dear Judith... I hope you are not infront of the pc screen and already at your door :)
    Don't worry, a little walk around the blog-sphere and you'll see that all creative people have the same thoughts, well not scientifically expressed, but give or take quite the same.
    My anxiety on the other hand isn't whether I'll succeed the next painting, but if I stop progressing...
    Hope you enjoy your rest of the weekend and let me remind you, that you have big talent which continuously progressing!!

  2. Another little gem of a comment here Tina!!! Yes I totally agree about the progressing bit... that was always my aim (and still is!!) and as long as I can see progress I am driven on (and am still driven on for reasons above when I have taken backward steps too)there seems to be no choice whatsoever for me other than to carry on painting!!! Thank you as always for your generous remarks Tina, lovely to hear from you!!

  3. An interesting post on the experience of painting,dear Judith! I end up never to seek and to learn so I appreciate the journey and I do not have to focus on the point of arrival...
    Just as in life!

    1. I forgot to mention that Rita!! That is of course the other reason I paint... I just love the process and love seeing things happen on the paper!!!

  4. It's fascinating all this stuff about positive reinforcement - I've studied a bit of it too in the past and completely agree with what you're saying and how it relates to us in our artwork

    1. I thought it was fascinating too Sharon.... the animal behaviour bits of my course were really some of the most interesting.... we once had a lecture where a Professor brought his young orang-utan in to show us how he was teaching him to "speak" apparently they have similar vocal chords to humans so were considered suitable animals to try this out on..... it was wearing a rugby shirt and a nappy and lived with him!!! Certainly saw all sorts there!!!


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