I was working on a small sketch of my brother yesterday and it made me think about techniques. As I was sketching, I realized that I needed a darker tone for his hair so I pulled out a 2B pencil to shade accordingly. I think of this as the purist form of technique. It was a combination of experience (having tested the shades of pencil) and knowledge (reading that a 2B pencil is darker than a 2H).
That small sketch sparked me to write this post. Writing about my ideas also allows me to further analyze them. Making thoughts visible through language makes me think a lot about how technique is a system of the same means.
Technique is simply a guideline system and provides a framework from which ideas can develop. I've tried several different techniques, all of which I have learned 'tricks' from. Since painting itself is an illusion, painters need these abstract tricks to display an idea.
Technique is the same as an alphabet. As a painter, it gives you the tools to illustrate a message. But, knowing the alphabet itself is not enough to write Shakespeare, it only provides the building blocks for it. The same is true of technique.
I love reading and writing about technique, but in the end it's about having creativity and a message. Study technique, but remember that it's simply a matrix by which you illustrate your idea.