I think there's some truth to that. It helps to come to the table with something -- an agenda, a hunger, a quest.
I'm reminded of the documentary Scratch, where DJ Shadow talks about the art of digging.
"There's the promise in these stacks* of finding something that you're going to use. ... It has almost a karmic element...I was meant to find this. ... Just being in here is a humbling experience. ...I honestly feel like the people that dig don't stop digging 'cuz it's a part of who we are. People that don't, you don't have to. It's not going to make a bad dj good, but it'll make a good dj better."
You never know what you're going to find on a dig. Last week I learned a neat thing about calf muscles and ankles. This week I locked in on something I do that's damaging : I'm stretching the figures out too much, like taffy, and not letting them overlap and bunch up where they need to. The result is something like butterflies under glass. There's a subliminal urge, especially coming from a concept art background, to show rather than obscure. Push overlap! That's my new mantra.
The moderator was kind enough to lend me a book "The Undressed Art : Why We Draw" by Peter Steinhart. In it, the author says "We are less engaged in producing than we are in practicing. It's a refrain that runs through the work of even the best draftsmen and draftswomen. We do it not because we're good at it, but because there's some prospect that if we keep doing it, eventually we may be good."
The dig continues...