This is a post written by my Design Associate, Irene Hill:
We’ve just finished another three-day training in the beautiful city of Toronto, Ontario. Winter is right around the corner and the weather was sunny, bright and starting to get really cold. Perfect for wearing coats and scarves.
One of the beautiful paths at Trinity College
Linda Burnham drove her car from Michigan to Toronto and of course, had to clear customs to get there. As she approached the customs booth her big concern was whether she would have to give up the apples in her trunk. But that’s not how the conversation went. It went like this:
Custom’s Agent: “What are you going to do in Canada?”
Linda Burnham: “I’m going to a class at the University of Toronto.”
CA: “Do you have your class registration to show me?”
LB: “Um, no…”
CA: “So, you’re going to a class at the University of Toronto and you don’t have your registration with you? Do you have [proof of the class] on your phone?”
CA: “Okay, what kind of a class is it?”
LB: “Interior design.”
CA: “Oh, are you an interior designer in the States?”
LB: “Yes, I am.”
CA: “What’s the class about?”
LB: “It’s about colour.”
CA: “Oh, is it Maria Killam’s class?!”
LB: “Yes it is!”
CA: “I heard she was coming to Toronto – that’s really exciting! Have a great time!”
Back row: Susan Besser, Deena Oziel, Leigh Ann Russo, Kim Newman, Elaine Proud, Ann Schamberger, Cathy Zaeske
Middle row: Jacqui Taylor, Maria, Maryann Steffe, Robin Di Valentino, Denise Freeman
Front row: Linda Burnham, Myriam Jacopille, Laura Coleman
A big piece of the learning in this course is hands-on. Students work to build their personal reference book with charts of complex neutrals divided by undertone. This gives them a tool to use at a glance as they continue to train their eye to identify undertones correctly. It’s not an overnight process, but it is the start of a life-long learning.
We also give them fabric, granite, tile, carpet and wood samples and they work in groups to pick the best paint colours for walls, cabinets and trim. It seems like the most “aha” moments happen in this part of the training – Maria critiques their choices and helps them to see where they went right and where there was a better colour.
Some people say it takes it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert.
I asked Maria how, short of working in a paint store for four years and conducting hundreds of consultations (10,000 hours) to develop a confident eye for specifying colour. Here’s her best advice:
1. Understand how to identify the undertones in neutrals and whites (buy her eBook if this is a new conversation!)
2. Take your fan deck with you EVERYWHERE you go. Be the person who whips out your fan deck at your friend’s, your mother’s, your doctor’s, your bank and colour match the paint on the walls. If you can identify the undertone of the neutral and white while looking at the wall and then colour match it to a paint chip you can get experience in how that colour will look if you specify it.
Let me tell you – I’ve worked with Maria for 2 1/2 years now and she still does this! We’ll be driving by a building and she’ll quickly pull over to the side of the road, hop out with her fan deck and colour match the outside of the building. She’ll then get back in, start driving and we’ll discuss the merits (or lack thereof) of the colour in question. Once she’s scrutinized and analysed the colour scheme we’ll go back to the previous conversation.
This is how you get your 10,000 hours and become great at what you do.
“Hi Maria! It was so very nice to meet you in person in Toronto. The classes were such a great learning experience for me. You brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm to all of us and I really appreciate it! I liked that you challenged us to go out of our comfort zone. Thanks again for all your helpful tips and advice.” Leigh Ann Russo
This course was almost half design enthusiasts/homeowners. One participant was about to build a new house which is why she registered for Maria’s training. This is what she said:
“Maria, I’m beginning to re-think some of my ideas about the new house. One thing I did learn last week – less is more for a timeless, classic look. And I think classic has a certain elegance about it. I’m so glad I attended while still in the planning stages.” Laura Coleman
If you want to start the journey to becoming great at colour, join Maria for one of her next classes.
What have you done for 10,000 hours that could make you “great”?
How I Became a True Expert
The Difference Between an Expert and a Master