When learning any new skill, making mistakes is inevitable. A couple years ago I started this painting. I saw a really cool image of a statue of a goddess with eight arms. I am not sure if it was Durga or Kali, but I loved the image. After spending time doing pencil studies of the photograph I downloaded from the internet, I pulled my courage around me and I blocked what I wanted to paint onto the canvas.
And then I started to paint. My sons teased me about her , uh, anatomy. I drew and painted and repainted her face, but I couldn’t get it right. Finally, I was feeling embarrassed about the painting and I put it away. A year after I put it away I pulled it out and asked my daughter to help me block in the face. She helped me. And I put it away again for another year.
Yesterday I pulled the painting out and worked on the face. I screwed it up again, her eyes were in the wrong place, her nose looked wrong, the skin tone didn’t match what I had done previously. This was all very frustrating and I was tempted to stash this painting for another year or so. I have an owl painting I want to work on.
This morning I pleaded with my daughter to help with the face again. She looked at it, but didn’t want to help me. She told me to do it myself. Argh. More frustration. So I painted over a portion of what I did yesterday.
Reminding myself I learn with every attempt at painting, I started over on the face. I also went over the rest of the body to even out the skin tones. Am I in love with what I did today? No. I have much more to do. I need to not be so perfectionist. Jumping in, painting over, and starting again is the only way to move forward. And if this painting is horrible? It’s ok, I am still learning.
This is what I ended for today with. Tomorrow I can play with the paint again!
I like this one Annette.
There’s a sense where all the advances mankind has made, since the Enlightenment, has followed this same pattern. Progress is made incrementally, absolute certainty is rare and engineering, is often, the study of failure.
Science and engineering both progress through stages of being progressively, ‘less wrong’. Not everyone appreciates this and some use it as a means of dismissing what science, is sometimes urgently, telling us.
But you must keep at it. As in fiction writing hacking out that first draft is not even the half way point – it’s a step towards discovering what it is you are trying to do.