Thursday, May 21, 2009

Making Mistakes

I'm busy painting mistakes as fast as I can and I'm getting better with every one! At the moment I don't really have anything to share art wise. Perhaps tomorrow. What prompted this post was a recent (yesterday) conversation with someone who asked, "Does it bother you to post your mistakes on your blog?" To which my immediate response was "Nope! Means I'm learning!"

This individual has a fear of making mistakes. They wished they had a different attitude towards making mistakes and the following points are what came out of our conversation. I share it with you in the hopes that this might help anyone else who is suffering from a fear of mistakes.

If we not making mistakes, we're not learning! How did we learn to walk? By falling down and getting back up, and we did it with a grin on our face because there was somebody cheering us on. So what happened? We grew up and some where along the way we lost the grin. If you're not making mistakes, it means you're not taking chances. You're playing it safe. You're not growing. Comfort zones are wonderful places until they become a trap. 

In our society, we count the cost of mistakes, but not their value! How do we learn? By making mistakes. But when we make a mistake we focus on the time and materials wasted and NOT on what we learned! How else could we have learned it - through years of getting it right?

Every time I put the brush/pencil/crayon down on the paper I know I could fail. So what? No one's going to get hurt, nothing horrible (like the Earth might stop spinning) is going to happen and everyone will still love me. So I wasted some paper, some time and a little paint. What did I learn?  

Well, I could say I learned not to do something a certain way. But what else did I learn? It takes looking close to see what other lessons are there to be learned. I've found some really cool effects by making mistakes:
  • I've got an awesome background in one painting because I scrubbed it out so many times that I got a great texture. Would I have liked to have gotten it right the first time? Of course, but I've used that texture since and it won me a ribbon in a recent show!
  • I've found some really cool color combinations because I wasn't paying attention to where I put my brush on the palette. That taught me to pay more attention to what I'm doing and I also learned that some times an unusual color can really make a painting sing!
  • I've had the occasional "drop the loaded brush in the middle of the nearly finished painting" experience too. It is simply amazing how creative I can get when I have to find a way to cover up a stain so that I don't lose a painting!
Does it do any good to kick and scream and whine and cuss and tear out our hair when we make a mistake? No, though it can be mighty entertaining (at times) to others in the near vicinity! Rather than nash teeth, why not take a closer look and see what else there is to learn? Embrace the mistake and know that you're learning! Try to find ways the mistakes can make us stronger and better as artists. All things happen for a reason. It's up to us to figure out why . . . 


9 comments:

  1. Excellent post! This is a post to print out and save. I wish more people felt comfortable with their mistakes. I tell this all the time to my son, the perfectionist, that you don't get to be good at anything unless you make mistakes and practice. Very creative post, Laure!

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  2. Great post! Been there, done that. I used to be like the person that didn't want to post mistakes. I am way over that now. When I think of some of the things I posted, I shudder. But I learned a lot and like you say, thats what its all about.

    I got your email and need some time to digest it. Thanks for thinking of me.

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  3. Oh, so well put! I totally agree with you...but maybe that's because everything I do winds up one big mistake! LOL Seriously, you're so right that that's how we grow, and learn. I haven't seen a mistake from you yet, though, Laure.

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  4. I'll second all of that! When I'm tempted to throw in the towel I frequently remind myself of Thomas Edison - my hero! Almost 1,000 glorious failures but it didn't deter him. then, when his shop burned down and destroyed his life's work and all of his equipment his grown son later said that he was afraid that it would destroy his father. Edison's attitude? "Well, that got rid of all my mistakes so now I can make a fresh start." Wow.
    Wish I had an attitude half as good as that!

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  5. Such wise words! (and ones I need to remind myself of 24/7) Thank you for putting this out there.

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  6. This is a wonderful post! Bravo! If you know that and do that, that is already a success!

    I remember when I went to my first art lesson everyone around me had some experience and was really good, and I was holding my pencil, not sure how to draw a line (no kidding!). I remember the teacher came to me and said "Draw!! What is the worst that could happen? - Have a bad drawing, tear it apart and throw it away like it never happened. No one will see it, no one will know. So what are you afraid of?" I still remember this every time I pick up the pencil or the brush. The fact is during that 5 or 6 months course I developed much more by simply making mistakes. When I go through my drawings and paintings from it there isn't really much I like, but I know what mistake there is in every single drawing.

    Watercolors is a new technique to me, so now I paint only with watercolor :) It really helps trying to find out a different way to do the same things:)

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  7. It seems this is something that resonates with us all and on many different levels! Thanks everyone, for your comments!

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  8. ...wonderful post. Yesterday I was just talking about this to my friend--although we were talking about every day living, not painting. You have to make mistakes to grow. I've learned a lot over my lifetime making mistakes!!

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