Why am I scared to fail in the practice of art?

"I am always doing that which I cannot do in order that I may learn how to do it." ~ Pablo Picasso

Mixed media portrait

My art room is littered with crumpled papers and painted canvases, in other words, all my recent failures, most of which are far too ugly to publish. The portrait above is one that I am comfortable sharing with you.

She doesn't have a name or a title because she took me by surprise.   Hubby suggested Miss Alanious...  That is his brand of humour.  Roll the eyes one more time and sigh....that was my reaction.

When you examine the photos below, you will see a bit of the process that happened before she surfaced.

While I was working on this particular painting, I doubted that I could bring this project to some kind of satisfactory end result. Having recently ruined countless sheets in a journal (it's only paper right?) as well as several cheap Dollar Store canvases, I was ready to give up on acrylics for the time being and return to the safety of my watercolours.

I know that all art projects go through an ugly phase. Some of my phases last a very long time!  Contrary to my friends' belief, art is not a gift; it is hard work, continuous and prolonged sketching, and painting, and experimenting.

For it is during those long periods of trial and error, of talking to oneself either trying to shore up the courage to continue, or to finally give up on the task at hand, that a wannabe artist probably learns the most.

However, these are the most vulnerable times as well when self-doubts and lack of confidence emerge once more.

Thankfully, this painting was easier than most, and I am sure that it is the pastels layered on the acrylic that helped me feel that all was not lost.

first step in mixed media portrait

First, I painted a background and added dark and light areas of the face. I followed artist Juna Biagioni's approach. (blog.junabiagioni.com)

In the early stages I was optimistic... I can do this! and then at times, doubtful..... Is this really going to work?

I had to overcome the fear that I had lost my "touch", that this like all the other attempts,  would be a failure. Several people have told me recently that I am too hard on myself. They might have a valid point.

process of mixed media portrait

process of mixed media portrait

By now I had already been through the "oh crap, this isn't going to work" phase and moved on to the "well, maybe. Let's continue, nothing lost, nothing gained" phase.

I am not used to working with a big brush and just adding blobs to suggest where the features would later magically appear.

This is exactly the opposite of my usual detailed planning before I begin a painting.  Surprisingly, it brought me to a place where I was quite proud of the final outcome!

She surfaces - mixed media process

I now understand the term to give birth to something in art. I didn't know who would surface...was it male or female? What expression would this person have? It was all a bit of a shock when she appeared and I knew this was going to work.

Have I lost my fear of failure you ask. Are you kidding? Not at all!

I have several other mixed media experiments waiting to be finished in my art room. I will probably go through a similar process with each one.

I can always find a reason to leave them on one of my easels.

One favourite excuse is to claim to need one or other art supply for the portrait which then turns into a shopping trip to a favourite store and quite probably some browsing elsewhere as well.

The other is to take out my watercolours and paint teacups or vintage portraits.  

However, truthfully, there is nothing left that I need other than to rid myself of this fear of failure.

 

2 thoughts to “Why am I scared to fail in the practice of art?”

  1. You silly sausage… just let your fears go. For your first go at this she is beautiful, loved the journey. Reminded me of the movie The Danish Girl,

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