Ânia Marcos
Ânia Marcos

Why Speed Takes Time

Recently I got serious about learning Japanese and started learning how to read and write hiragana (the easiest alphabet they have, which is taught to children).

Then the other night, we went out to eat at my favorite Japanese restaurant. I took my book with me to show Hiroshi, one of the owners, how I was doing with my studies. I also asked him a grammar question, so he grabbed a pen and wrote down a word…

…in a split second.

I didn’t even see the pen move.

I wrote the same word on the same piece of paper. Look at my 6 year old inner child shine below:

(Am I not the most adorable thing?)

(Am I not the most adorable thing?)


That’s when it hit me – I can write the same word in english in a split second as well, it’s the new alphabet that makes it so hard!

…wait a second. New.. alphabet? Isn’t that what painting is?

When you’re painting, you’re not just making random brush strokes and magically creating a fantastic art piece.

You’re learning fundamentals, doing studies, searching for reference, actually thinking… Of course you won’t just wave your brush around and poof! There’s a whole process you have to go through!

Now please pause for a second and remember what it felt like when you first learned to write some new letters. Or that day when you could finally read the boards at the supermarket (my mom couldn’t stand me anymore…)

Remember how you used to read out loud? Wasn’t it hard…

…and slow?

Slow is part of the process. Be patient with yourself and take the time to learn and practice.

Speed Is Overrated…

In a World where we focus only on the results, speed is often seen as the only means to an end.

What do you think?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!


PS:If you’re looking for Digital Painting lessons and a community of like-minded artists to hang out with, check out The Magic Box, an online course at The Oatley Academy. I love it and completely recommend it <3


  1. Jessica Brannan - 2 years ago

    This is so true! I love how much handwriting and painting have in common. Like, even the graphic gestural quality of everything resembles the letters of any alphabet. Language and the visual arts are truly one in the same in so many different ways. 😀

    • aniamarcos - 2 years ago

      “Even the graphic gestural quality of everything resembles the letters of any alphabet.” – love it!! Thank you, Jessica, for your thoughtful and kind comments 😀

      It’s crazy to me how artists just get completely down and punish themselves when starting something new. It’s all a process <3

  2. Tracy Strong - 2 years ago

    I had a great clean up teacher. She was brutal in her critics, picking up every line wobble, every inconsistent thickness. She told us to take as long as we needed to get it right. Do it 4 times if we had to. Speed will come all by itself.
    My first 2 drawings she approved took 11 hours each. It was bugs bunny. After a few months of this my eyes improved, and my speed improved all by itself.
    “speed” is a natural result of consistent effort.

    • aniamarcos - 2 years ago

      So true, Tracy! As always, thank you so much for your amazing input <3

  3. John - 2 years ago

    I am so jealous in a way. I went through a phase in high school where I checked out all kinds of Japanese books from the library just to try and copy the forms. Alas I had no Japanese friends or the internet at the time. I love how you dive in all the way with stuff you decided to do. Very inspiring and charming post. I always get a big boost from hearing your thoughts. 🙂 🙂

    • aniamarcos - 2 years ago

      Thanks so much, John! 😀 You’re always super encouraging <3 So glad these posts can help!

  4. Kyoko - 2 years ago

    I remember when I was little, my mother administered my Hiragana and then Kanji writing. I had to practice writing each character so many times on papers. Especially for Kanji, we have like 5000 of them and you just draw many times to memorize number of strokes, directions, strength, etc. I also practiced calligraphy when I was little. But I didn’t realize those practice have something in common with drawing/painting until you mentioned!! Thank you Ania!

    • aniamarcos - 2 years ago

      HI, Kyoko! 😀 Thank you for sharing your story <3 5000 is a LOT of Kanji >.< I have a long way to go... oh dear! Haha!

  5. Marwa - 2 years ago

    Wow , love you as always , you make things look so simple & warm Ania . I think having awesome people like you in the world is the only thing that keeps the world growing on & on . for me I always feel extremely responsible when i start to learn a new thing now more than when i was younger , so complexity always comes in the way of feeling good about all the efforts i make . If only i was that simple 🙂 . but hey I’m lucky to have you reminding me to be easy on my self Ania <3

    • aniamarcos - 2 years ago

      You’re always the sweetest, Marwa <3 Thank you a million for your encouragement 🙂 Hug!

  6. Jessie Kate Patterson - 2 years ago

    Such an awesome post Ania! Gave me flashbacks to Japanese class ^_^ Another thing I noticed when studying Japanese and Korean strokes more methodically is that the cursive and handwriting styles of natives are so much easier to read as a result. Because when you learn it slow and steady, and speed up more naturally, you begin to understand the places where you yourself would want to let your stroke have more or less pressure as you flow through. The resulting stylizations make more sense. Like Hiroshi’s hook on the “ki” that disappears and reappears naturally, or the “pu” that becomes connected where it normally wouldn’t be.

    The same thing happens with drawing as you said. When the reason for the shape is clear and we know it super well, we give ourselves room to flow through our lines confidently. As we drag our pen across the page, pulling it off and dropping it back on, the resulting quality of the lines expresses our level of confidence in them. The more meaning the line has and the more confident we are that we understand the meaning, the more our line quality looks “native”.

    Results are just that…results. The consequence, the aftereffect of the process. Thanks for the lovely post sharing your awesome insight/analogy! Love when life clarifies something in an unexpected way <3

    • aniamarcos - 2 years ago

      Thank you so much for your comment, Jessie K! Always a pleasure to hear from you 🙂

      Super agree with the things you said. It’s always amazing to me how life teach us so much if you’re paying attention <3

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