Re: Is more skill real progress?
If you feel like you're standing still then maybe you are. Like doing 10 years of sculpture by doing the same 1 year over and over.
Sometimes the huge challenges you can get thrown your way can give you leaps in your skill or understanding. Take the challenges, do what u think might be really hard to do. Get other people critiquing that work.
I got some paid work over the past few years that pushed me so hard I don't recognize myself now. Stuff that I found technically horrifying and used to require maths I can now do without even measuring. That's skill I guess. But also surmounting that technical challenge means I can do that work now in a far more flow like way. Without stopping to sit down and measure or do maths I can just make the head I want, or whatever. And studying that anatomy so hard means it all comes easily now, and it looks loads better.
But yeah doing the same head over and over will not get you any progress. But that's not depressing, it's liberating, once you know it. Then get on and do something hard.