Is there a such thing as failure when you’re an artist? I mean, can’t anybody pick up a mangled brush and create art that stirs an emotion of some sort (perhaps even boredom or disgust apply)?
Yes, I feel fear as an artist. I deal with failure when I want something to look a certain way and don’t get there as fast as I think I should. Now that I phrased it that way, it’s starting to sound pretty normal, isn’t it? I’ve been doing this since I learned to crawl.
Here are some questions I challenge myself with when I am faced with the “mangled brush”:
1. What is the root of the fear? Am I prepared for what I am trying to do or am I trying to pull a miracle?
2. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Is that so bad that I couldn’t handle it? Is it worse than not trying at all?
3. Who does God say I am? If this idea doesn’t work, is it seriously a reflection of who I am?
4. How can I simplify what I am doing? Can I take this one step at a time instead of seeing the finished painting in my head and trying to get to the end too fast?
5. Failure is temporary. Am I going to let this stop me?
This post comes as a personal lecture to myself after a hard day. Yesterday, I painted. I was trying to capture fog. I went too far. Now it looks as though I need to start over, but I’m still not sure how to create fog. While I was waiting for the butchered fog painting to dry, I pulled one of my biggest, most expensive canvases and began to play with the paint, dance with the colors, and just feel the brightness and explore where it would take me. Well, I accomplished some sort of exploration, but I tell ya folks…no magic happened! But REALLY where is the failure in that? I did exactly what I set out to do…feel the paint move and the colors mix. So now I need to show you just how proud I am of failure being a part of my walk, I’m going to post a picture of it. Just in case you think I’m amazing all the time, ha ha ha.
So today will be a day of starting over for me. It’s not really work. It’s life. After all, each day I start over. The alarm goes off again, I shower again. Lather rinse repeat.
I used to think there was nothing more scary than a blank canvas. I was a perfectionist back then, and one could argue that I still am. The one thing that has changed is I’m challenging that feeling when I make a mistake. Who feels inspired when they are afraid?
I couldn’t live like that, couldn’t paint like that, and confirmed it with years of drying paint tubes and dusty brushes.
It’s still there. The canvas is full of paint now and I look at it and have goosebumps. But now, instead of pondering all that could go wrong, I ponder all that could go right. Most of my canvases are painted in layers upon layers of starting over. In fact, I have done it so often that I plan my next layer over canvases that have been hanging on my walls for years…now it is part of my philosophy. Life changes, I change, and so must the walls.
Enjoy not being perfect. Fail well: perfect being imperfect.