Dan recently blogged about failures: “So many people try to hide failure.
Sometimes, they want to hide it out of embarrassment and sometimes they want to hide it out of fear. I don’t want to fail, but when I do, I want to learn from failure.”
My dialogue with Dan continued in my head: failures teach so much, so why do so many teachers try to hide them? I thought about West Wing, Galileo, when it fails, and they decide to continue with the press conference so the kid who fails in school can see that even high-stakes enterprises fail, and we pick up and learn from it and try again….
I’ve taught design+creativity most of my
life to all age groups. I taught about failures
and creative blocks and being stuck and
all the real things creatives go through.
One phenomena I noticed teaching design
at UCLA, was that anytime I had a particularly difficult project that was uninspiring or
I was stuck, creative blocks or
where-one-gets-ideas was always the
what the students would ask about during critiques. We teach most what we need to learn, though many of us don’t know it at the time.
I always told the truth: when stumped I read Sherlock Holmes, a chapter from Pooh,
went for a walk on the Venice Beach boardwalk, or made a big beef stew from scratch.
I get paid for my brushstrokes every day in our business
(oil paint, shellac, traditional finishes on objects, above), and I am always learning, pushing the boundaries, taking on tasks I’ve never had the pleasure to treat!
Sometimes I have failures, and have to repair my own work. I am redoing a failure on the circus ball above as we speak. I tried a shortcut using Gamblin’s FastMatte oil paint without knowing there is a trick to layering: it’s all in the fats….
I started this blog when I switched from acrylics to watercolors.
I was 100% out of my depth, learning on the fly, by myself, no teachers.
It’s been two years. Posting my struggles and experiments has been good for
many readers, and I don’t feel so isolated in my explorations.
I’ve published a lot of “failures” and struggles.
I believe success in any creative endeavor is a combination of equal parts:
- time spent with tools and materials daily;
- the willingness to fool around, play, or experiment — invoking the child and giving the ego/critic something else to do;
- trusting your own direction once you have some skills;
- natural abilities or “talent.”
This means anyone can be an artist.
However, I think the sunflower is overworked.
I HATE the background, my first outing with Cobalt Violet.
I am not impressed with the depth of the color, though I like the granulation.
My juicy wash went awry, and I’m not sure why!
Pentalic Aqua Journal, with a Pentalic HB woodless pencil, Platinum Carbon pen,
Lamy Al-Star with De Atramentis Document black Ink, and Daniel Smith watercolors.
I agree to Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International License, which you can learn more about by visiting the site, or,
visit my web page for a more user-friendly summary on my terms.
My images/blog posts may be reposted; please link back to dkatiepowellart.