My summer project was to improve my bird sketching skills. I drew a small sketch almost everyday in a Moleskine journal. The paper was thin and didn't take well to watercolor as you'll see in the page warping. But the other goal was to get away from having the sketches be too precious and just practice drawing. Keeping the project manageable in this kind of approach worked well.
I photographed birds and drew them; studied John Muir Laws videos and his books on bird drawing and kept one idea in mind before starting a drawing: it could have been layout, attention to shadows, shapes, angles, layers of feathers, beaks, talons, etc. It helped simplify learning new ways to see and practice what I was learning. I kept faith that by the end of a few months I would see improvement. I now have a small 5"X7" crinkly sketchbook that brings back memories of all I saw this summer and the beautiful habitats I visited. When I pick up a pencil to draw I feel a certain imprint in how I hold the pencil, the light touch I've developed, a deeper appreciation of lights and darks to bring the image forward, and a new awareness of the process my mind goes through to start recording those shapes.