The magic of practice

'If I don't practice one day, I know it; two days, the critics know it; three days, the public knows it.'

The famous violinist Jascha Heifetz apparently once said this to a reporter, and it's something that I keep in mind.

During the summer I have been focussing on a writing project (- will it ever see the light of day? Only time will tell -) and so my painting has been a little neglected.

But the gift of a box of paintbrushes seemed like a good enough sign to pull out a blank page and unscrew a pot of ink.

I braced myself for some terrible work and yes, there it was. But the thing is, to not tale terrible work personally and just keep going.

'It takes discipline. Discipline to work at it every day, like a ballet dancer,' I said to a friend the other night.

'Well, maybe not,' he said. 'I think it's more about mindfulness. Find the joy and wonder in it, like you did as a kid, so that you don't turn the practice of your work into some heavy kind of fight.' I had to admit, I liked the sound of this. 'And then, if you do practice every day, it will be more about habit than discipline, and you'll be taken to the easel in just the same way that you brush your teeth every morning – almost without thinking.'

So there we go. This is my new intention – to reconnect with the joy of practicing, and to allow it to become a daily part of my life.