When I was small I would always look forward to being better at drawing in the future. I knew that if I kept at it, my developing brain would magically understand things that had been total mysteries to me not six months earlier. It was a great feeling. I used to go back and draw improved versions of pictures next to their originals in my old sketchbooks. As a little more time went by I would look back at these improved drawings, realise they were rubbish after all and draw a new improved one beside the other two... Then one day my brain stopped growing. I would look back at old sketchbooks and think, damn, that looks just the same as the stuff I'm drawing now! Finally I stopped waiting for things to improve on their own. I realised I was actually going to have to make a conscious effort to learn new stuff if I wanted to.
As time has gone by I have tried to learn about all sorts of things that have previously baffled me. It is always a really exciting thing to do. There are few better feelings than the one you get when you understand something for the first time. Last year I tried to learn about colour. It turned out to be a HUGE and vastly complicated subject (who knew?) but I was able to learn a great many things that have helped me immensely since. I moved the frontier a little bit and next time I go back and try and learn more, I can start from a little bit further in. For example, I would really like to know how and when to paint those amazing luminous colours you get when light shines through something translucent like a leaf or a cloud or an ear... I've tried guessing and it always looks very wrong!
Anyway... I was going to be taking a long train journey the other day and I was looking for something to read. I saw a book called Perspective for Artists. My first thought was, I know about perspective already. My second thought was, I tried to read that once - it was impossible. Clearly I didn't know about perspective after all. Like so many things in my professional life I just kidded myself I knew it because it's sort of embarrassing to admit you don't!
Three pages in on the train and I was learning new stuff. It turns out that my entire knowledge of the theory of perspective could be expressed in two pages of text. Hmm. No wonder I don't draw many buildings!