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Try At Least Twice Before You Declare Failure

By December 30, 2012

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"I ruined a painting because I took the advice of an instructor and painted my canvas a solid color instead of my preference, white. It did not work for me." -- M.O.
Afraid I'm going to be unsympathetic here. If you're somewhere there's an instructor, then you shouldn't be sticking to what you know; you're there to broaden your horizons, to learn, to explore new possibilities, not to repeat what you can already do. Trying something once and declaring it didn't work for you isn't a path to artistic development and growth. It needs at least two attempts; if at first you don't succeed and all that. There are few things in art we get "right" the first time.

Next time you're in this type of situation, consider overpainting with opaque paint. If you mix in a little titanium white with colors, you can reduce what's visible underneath without obliterating it completely, letting it enhance the sense of depth and layers while not dominating. If a painting isn't working, that's the time to be bold -- it doesn't matter what the result is, it wasn't working before anyway so at most you lose some time and paint. At best, well that unknown is the motivational carrot...


December 30, 2012 at 3:43 pm
(1) Yover says:

Don’t let’s dramatize the situation!
What I feel is that the most difficult thing for an adult is to keep intact what a child is when he paints or draws: an innocent experimenter. O innocence and openness where are you? How to play down the importance of our own ability to censure and of censorship? Why do we attach importance so disproportionately to what we create at any time? What is hidden behind? When Cezanne didn’t love one of his sketches or even a well achieved painting, he was able to tear up them! And he started again. As a child. Focused anew as if nothing had happened.

December 30, 2012 at 5:21 pm
(2) Marion BE says:

@Yover: I wonder if it’s because learning to fail (to not achieve the desired results and then to build on this) isn’t part of modern life, it’s all about (instant) achievement and good-looking results. The process is neglected, and the willingness (and need) to spend time acquiring the know-how lost.

December 31, 2012 at 4:15 am
(3) Yover says:

I agree with you. Yes, it’s about “learning to fail”…..

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