Failure

This is a positive blog post, don’t be misled by the title.

Failure.

A word that many of us want to delete from our vocabulary.

Something we try to avoid. Try to blame someone else: Circumstances. Other people. Fashions.

Something that really takes so many of us down.

Who wants to talk about their failures?

I mean… Who really wants to talk about them unless we find a sympathetic ear to help us look for others to blame?

I don’t want to talk about failure either. Talking about it brings on sad feelings.

It soon leads to catastrophizing and feeling gloom and hopelessness.

Not a mood I want to share with anyone. Not even my readers. Not even you.

I said this was going to be a positive post. Keep with me. I’m building up to it.

One of the things I shared with my readers some time ago (thank you for your loyalty, by the way!) is that I joined an art course quite of a sudden. It happened without much pondering in advance, without thinking about the pros and cons, without talking to anybody who might put a word of caution in my ear.

You know how I went (still an ongoing process, there are some more terms to cover).

It’s been a challenge, to say the least. But it’s been a worthy one.

Why?

Because I thought I was going to learn only about art but I found I was learning about everything: About life. About myself. About the human condition. About … FAILURE! and how to understand it.

I now understand why I have the impulse to share all my doodles and drawings and moments of inspiration with you. With whoever stops by to read my posts.

Many of my classmates are talented people. Some of them are happy to share their work online. Mostly on social media. Many just for friends and family.

Some of them, though, feel cautious that they haven’t got their work perfected enough. That anybody could have a negative opinion of their work if they share it before it’s “right”. So they rather not share it with anybody. Not online. Not yet.

I think they are scared of failing.

They think they should have some accreditation (some official paper?) before they share their imperfect work with the world.

I understand how they feel. I used to feel like that way once, years ago.

Worried that people would think my work wasn’t good enough. Shy. Nervous about what they’d think.

Until I chose to dip my feet in the water. Take some chances. See what would happen.

Be brave and stop hiding from people. Let them think whatever they choose to think.

Let them care about the details, and have opinions or criticise me if they like.

I decide whether I listen or not to their opinions, though. Whether they reflect my need to improve or merely their taste.

I haven’t yet ‘succeeded’ on a public way.

My success is more personal than that.

I’ve learned (from life, although my art course reinforced this) that failure doesn’t exist.

Every failed attempt at doing something can help us build a better project in the future.

Ideas that seemed random on the early days of class have taken hold and have evolved into projects that may one day become a reality (A commissioned sculpture in a public park? Why not? Why dismiss my ideas before they have the chance to happen?)

I empathise with this energizing perspective of failure:

Some of the most boring footage I took became a short video clip I now love (sorry, I can’t share it publicly)

Some of the dull pictures I took helped me learn what I should do different next time.

Some of my efforts in starting a photography business or a career in health and social care haven’t yet given fruit. But they have given me a myriad topics I can use in future. I’m familiar with experiences many people wouldn’t choose voluntarily. I did. I know more than before. And nobody can take that knowledge away from me or from my future art, my future photographs, my future connections in all areas of life.

So, to those (classmates or not) who are still pondering with the fear of failure I’d tell them it is in your mind. It doesn’t exist.

A website with few visitors is not a failure.

A portfolio of work in progress is not a failure.

A change of plans or a change of strategy or a change of timing is not a failure.

Giving up your dreams (whatever they are: art, business, learning, new jobs, new friends) just because someone may have a negative opinion is.

Keep failing (I tell myself and others) and focus on what we can learn from it: It’s better that dwelling on regrets.

In the meantime, I keep sharing.

Not because I think my work is perfect but because I know -even if it is only my personal opinion- it’s worth sharing.

Thanks for reading this.

 

These are some of my recent ‘failures’ (I call them experimental works). I made notes of what I did and how it didn’t work out so I can try something different next time.

Using a new bristle brush with acrylic paint. Exploring texture

Using a new bristle brush with acrylic paint. Exploring texture

Again exploring texture. I like to mix colours on the canvas, which I have been told is not something to do. Oh well. I like it.

Again exploring texture. I like to mix colours on the canvas, which I have been told is not something to do. Oh well. I like it.

Again bristle brush and exploring texture

Again bristle brush and exploring texture

More exploring textures. Mixing some of the colours on the palette, and others applied fresh on top of wet paint. I love the textured feel of the bristle, even if it doesn't offer much control of where the paint goes.

More exploring textures. Mixing some of the colours on the palette, and others applied fresh on top of wet paint. I love the textured feel of the bristle, even if it doesn’t offer much control of where the paint goes.

I covered a feather in acrylic paint. I pressed it onto paper, directly placed on top of a chopping board. It looked messy. I moved the feathers. It still had too much paint.

I covered a feather in acrylic paint. I pressed it onto paper, directly placed on top of a chopping board. It looked messy. I moved the feathers. It still had too much paint.

Once the feather had lost some paint I pressed it onto the paper a few more times.

Once the feather had lost some paint I pressed it onto the paper a few more times.

I like how less paint prints. I used two other feathers this time.

I like how less paint prints. I used two other feathers this time.

Then I moved the feathers and placed a new paper on top: it captured the feathers and the feathery 'ghosts'.

Then I moved the feathers and placed a new paper on top: it captured the feathers and the feathery ‘ghosts’.

The paint was getting dry and clumpy. I ruffled the feathers for the last print.

The paint was getting dry and clumpy. I ruffled the feathers for the last print.

This is the side with the white card. It soaked up too much paint from the thicker tread. I tried to press again after moving the threads. Messy.

This is the side with the white card. It soaked up too much paint from the thicker tread. I tried to press again after moving the threads. Messy.

Using invisible thread, polyester thread and tapestry thread dipped in acrylic and washing up liquid. Threads sandwiched between white card and translucent paper. The translucent paper got creased.

Using invisible thread, polyester thread and tapestry thread dipped in acrylic and washing up liquid. Threads sandwiched between white card and translucent paper. The translucent paper got creased.

Trying again with plants. I forgot to place the plant on top of the swirly pattern. Second attempt below, with more paint. Messy.

Trying again with plants. I forgot to place the plant on top of the swirly pattern. Second attempt below, with more paint. Messy.

 

Trying to print a silhouette of pressed plants. Too flimsy, they got stuck to the paper and the paint.

Trying to print a silhouette of pressed plants. Too flimsy, they got stuck to the paper and the paint.

 

Blue

Hello! We meet again.

Thanks for stopping by.

I’ve been trying to relax and enjoy the free time during term break. Doing things that take my mind off the world:

Getting busy with my paints and making some mess.

Experimenting.

Trying out things to see how they come out.

Lately I’ve been experimenting with different media (using things such as a melted milk bottle top, food colouring, melted wax, melted plastic and acrylic paint mixed with glue and with hand cream)

I’ve noticed quite a few of my works are blue. They happened by chance, just because I like primary colours. I also find blue is a good tone to mix and will show strong contrast with the paper.

Anyhow, I wanted to share these with you. I hope you like them.

 

Until next time.

Thanks for reading this.

 

Recapping

3D1566

I couldn’t believe the sudden urge to knot myself into a ball, close my eyes and wait for summer to be over.

Well, it wasn’t quite so dramatic. It lasted for a few moments over the last week. I don’t feel that strongly any more.

But it surprised me.

I thought I had a good run on the last term of my course. I thought I had managed to keep on top of things without getting too wrapped up in the group.

And yet, the thought of not being in the same class again, not facing the same challenges every week together, not being with the same people every week any more… felt like a loss.

I’m glad we met. I’m glad I’ll still see many of them in between lessons, each one to our different specialism. I’m glad it happened and we had a chance to chat and say our farewells on the last day.

To help me deal with moments like that, I find it useful to recap, focus on the good memories I want to take with me,  before I move swiftly on to the next project.

My next project is doing nothing too intellectual for the next few weeks, getting prepared mentally for the next round of conceptualism and whatever other theories they throw at me. Let’s see how it pans out…

And for your benefit I have put together a brief round of my works from the last term.

 

If you have time to kill feel free to go and check other works here too.

By the way: I have no idea what I will write about now that the summer break is on.

Time will tell.

I’ll just listen for the clues and let the writing happen when it may.

 

timelapse of a painting

I present you my last work, trying a technique with oils.

The subject was a B/W picture of a project I designed for a different class.

I’ve been told it looks reminiscent of a ‘Telly Tubbies garden”.

I liked that.

 

 

Doodles

I love doodling.

And I’ve noticed some of my doodles follow me around.

They reappear in my art work.

They pop in my head when I’m finished making some new piece for my course.

They whisper in my ear and want me to draw them.

They are relentless.

Nevertheless, I’ve realised they are one of the ways creativity happens:

You make doodles, let the pencil loose, think of a random idea and follow it up for no reason. Just gut feeling.

Some of my random ideas have been evolving during the last few weeks of my course.

And some of my doodles have reappeared lately (a bit reminiscent of those doodles of ages ago)

I hope you like them.

(Click to see them better)

 

 

 

Drawing

I haven’t updated this blog for a short while and I have noticed I feel silly when sharing updates of my recent work (remember my art course?) on social media.

Social media for me often feels so … impersonal? Ephemeral?

Maybe I just don’t feel my posts ‘fit in’ among so many others from so many other people.

We live in a fast-paced world and social media reflects that.

My posts, hopefully, don’t.

 

So, for those out there who may be curious about my doodles, here they are.

(To save you from overwhelm I chose just a few: feel free to click on them if you want to see some more from the same class)

drawing-1155

This evolved from a drawing of a cup I had made at a different class.

This is a model I made of an outdoor space. I went all out with the editing afterwards.

patterns_0002

This was an exercise on pattern. I decided to use colours on them afterwards

collage

This was an exercise on mixing colours and learning about their properties.

Nothing too fancy to show yet, but it feels great to be learning.

Thanks for reading!

Homemade prints

I thought it would be fun to experiment with stuff from my kitchen and apply some of the techniques I learned in my course.

These are the tools I used: plastic divider, ice-cream scoop, microfibre cloth, chopping board (using the reverse side), lots of newspapers, gloves, sponge, white plate for mixing paint.

home prints1

And these are some of the resulting prints:

Printmaking at home-1

gouache and washing up liquid (to keep paint from drying too quickly)

Printmaking at home-4

oil pastels and suntan lotion /olive oil

Printmaking at home-18

shoe polish and ink

Printmaking at home-28

ink +washing up liquid+hand cream.

home printing-22

acrylic paint mixed with hand cream (to stop it from drying too quickly)

I have uploaded many more photos here to keep them all organised.

It’s fun experimenting with art, and it’s even better when you already have the materials at home!