Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Letting Yourself Get It Wrong

painting on a wet afternoon
Don't know why. Really liked this photo with my feets in it.

A few weeks ago, I went to one of those paint and drink things - where there's an instructor up front who shows a group of inexperienced artists, out for a night on the town, how to do a specific painting. Booze may be involved if one so desires. I was more excited by the little packet of M&Ms they gave out than the drinks you had to buy, but that's me. Chocolate wins out over pretty much everything - and free chocolate, well, that just makes my day.

delicious rainbow
Photo by Robyn Lee
Mmmmm. Chocolate.....

A co-worker had to back out of his tickets for the night, and he gave them to me. It was fun. Since I'm more experienced on the art front than their usual clientele I took some liberties with the painting design - which was a sort of abstract pale pinkish purple background with a multi-colored flower up front. Nice but a bit bland for my tastes. You can see above how I turned it into an African sunset with a pretty yellow/red flower up front (at least I think of it as African - I'm not sure how African it actually is).

African sunset painting
A phone photo from the event itself!

However, what I really wanted to talk about was the little speech the instructor gave before we all started painting. She had us put our hand on our canvas (corny, I know) and repeat after her. I don't remember everything, but a few of the things we all had to say were:

  • I will not say, 'Mine sucks.'
  • I will not say, 'I can't do this.'
  • I will not say, 'Can you do mine for me?'


There was a whole group of people there, some of whom had never painted a canvas in their lives. Her message comes down to this: The first person you've got to convince you can do it is yourself.

That's the thing about all sorts of artistic endeavors (including writing). You have to convince yourself that you can do it. You have to let yourself make mistakes and not only say that it's okay but decide that you'll forgive yourself for those mistakes and try to learn from them.

sunset painting
Here's my painting before I added the tree and flower.

And, like the last point, you can't give up. Because if you give up and either let someone else finish for you or don't finish at all, you don't get that sense of accomplishment. That sense of "Yeah, this may not look like it was done by a professional, but it's mine, and I'm proud of myself. I did it!"

That sense of accomplishment is pretty awesome. No matter what the actual results. And if you keep on trying and keep on getting a few more things right each time, who knows. You might just become a published author. At least, that's what I'm hoping.

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