Are you willing to fail?

Making great art, like so many other things in life, is not something that people are born knowing how to do. However, I can tell you that there is one very important thing that you can do to achieve your goal of becoming a great artist, or a great cook or becoming great at anything. That is to do it.

Have a goal? Just do it!

To be more specific, do it a lot. I don’t mean sitting down one day and trying really hard to make the perfect picture. This is something that you may succeed or fail at, but it really will not help you to improve your skills unless you repeat the process, regularly.

Perhaps I am biased, but I have found that the way that I learn best is to try my best and more than likely fail. But don’t just stop there. Fail again and again and again. You might think that this sounds like crazy advice, but I believe that it is the secret to achieving any worthy goal.

When I was younger, I had a very reckless and lazy attitude. I thought that if I wanted to do something, like really do something worthwhile. I would simply devise a plan of attack, implement it as well as I could and then live with the results. If I did reasonably well, then I succeeded. If I failed then I probably wasn’t any good at it anyway, I mean who would want to be, it is stupid anyway. Everything was a one shot deal, all or nothing and failure was a bad thing. It meant that I was not good enough to do whatever it was.

The error of my ways

Well, as it turns out, I was wrong about a few things. The first thing I was wrong about was that just because I didn’t succeed on my first attempt didn’t mean that I just wasn’t able to do it. In fact, if I was honest with myself, I wasn’t good at anything to start with. I just had this idea that there were some things that some people were good at and other things that other people are good at. I suppose that is true to a point, but in the end what it came down to is that if I wanted to be able to do something well, I needed to practice doing it.

The next thing that I believed was that just because I failed at something meant that it wasn’t worth doing. This was a pretty hollow lie to begin with, but I think that everyone tells themselves this to some extent. It can be in a moment of pouting after a bitter defeat, seeping forth as, “That is stupid anyway!” It can also be something more subtle like giving up on something because I felt it was unattainable. The truth of the matter is that if there is a goal that I decide is worth attaining, then I should do it.

The last item I was wrong about (well I am sure there were many others but let’s stick to the context) was that I should only make one attempt at doing something. Putting all my eggs in one basket so to speak. This is now something I try to avoid as it is a recipe for for failure, and not the good kind.

What is the good kind of failure?

A good failure is one that has a low risk associated with it and is both small and repeatable. I used to do things like waiting until the night before a project was due to even start on it. My thinking was that I would be able to complete it even if I lost some sleep so why worry about it sooner. As it turns out this wasn’t the best way to go about it. Go figure.

What makes sense to me now is to take a large project and break it down into a number of smaller steps. Provide plenty of time for each of these steps to be completed and then start with the first one. This way, I give myself permission to fail and give myself a chance to learn from my mistakes and try again (and again and again, if necessary). I figured out that I am best at learning when I can see where I went wrong. People say something about hindsight being 20/20, so why not utilize that ability to see what went wrong to improve future performance?

The perfect learning opportunity

If you can make your failures into an asset, then honestly what can stop you? Your success? The trick is making the risk associated with failing minimal then there really is no downside. Fail as much as possible while achieving your goal to maximize your learning potential!

How to apply this to art

This process has applications throughout our lives. It may not be a solution for rocket scientists or doctors but it works pretty well for the most of our goals. Becoming a better artist is a goal that is works perfectly for. Maximize your learning potential by failing as much as possible. In other words, draw often. Every day is best, make it a habit and stick to it for at least a month or so to be able to really see the improvement.

I find a great way to do this is to challenge myself is with a daily drawing challenge like with Index Cards or my latest Nertiah world building.

What do you want to be better at? Art? Something else? Are you willing to fail?

And now for something completely different

I haven’t been posting up here much recently because quite honestly we haven’t been drawing and painting all that much together over the last few weeks. I find that my creative outbursts are often just that, an explosion of creative energy followed by a change in interest. Not to worry though I will follow that interest though and before long things will switch back around to what they were before.

This time around my interests have been on food, and it has been quite exciting what we have all been doing in the kitchen together. Yesterday, we worked together to make a dinner of Baked Steelhead with Roasted Red Potatoes followed by a dinner tonight of Tilapia Nachos. Both nights we enjoyed a homemade apple pie with vanilla ice cream for desert. It has been great and my kids have really been learning about food but also getting used to making fresh and flavorful foods.

It has been great and I don’t want to pass up the opportunity for some great and interesting posts about it. I would like to expand the scope of this blog from drawing with kids to doing activities together with your children. It will encompass art and food for now, but may lead to even more fun in the future.

Great advice from Phil McAndrew

I’ve been busy here these past weeks and so have not posted up much (if any) content. However I came across an excellent article today by Phil McAndrew titled Super Obvious Secrets That I Wish They’d Teach In Art School.

In the article he gives great advice to aspiring artists of all ages, if you have a few minutes, I would definitely recommend that you go and read it.

Drawing Tutorials by Lady2

There is a good looking series of drawing tutorials on DeviantArt by the user Lady2 (Katarzyna A. Kozłowska).

There are a few of them so I will give links to the ones I have found in the order that I think that they belong in:

  1. Head in Profile Tutorial
  2. Head Front View Tutorial
  3. Head 3/4 View Tutorial
  4. Hair Tutorial
  5. Eye Tutorial
  6. Lips Tutorial

These are great resources, try them out and see what you think, and keep drawing!

Become a Better Artist

Much of what happens here at wonky fresh is happening behind the scenes. Each event that is posted up is preceded by hours of drawing or painting. For every drawing that is posted up there are three or four that weren’t posted up. For each success, there are a number of abandoned projects, do-overs and crumpled up pages of frustration. What I want to do is to open this aspect of what we do to you the reader.

A more transparent Wonky Fresh

Why do I want to do this? It is a fair question, a good question even. It is not because I want to share my own frustration or the frustration of my kids. It is not because I want to bog down this site with sub par artworks. In fact it is quite the opposite, it is in fact because this is the process that makes us better artists.

How we get better

I am a firm believer in hands on learning, especially it comes to improving and learning skills. You can increase your knowledge about a topic by reading about. You can expose yourself to new ideas by talking to your peers about it. You can help cement things into your memory by writing them down as notes. These are all beneficial activities, but not one of them or all of them together can replace the actual process of learning by doing an activity.

How I became a better artist

The single most important thing that I have ever done to improve my artistic ability was to make it a habit. As you may have seen, back in 2010, I made a habit of drawing something onto an index card each day. When I look back over my work starting at the beginning of that period of time to now, a period of about two and a half years. I see the greatest improvement that I have ever made in my artistic skills at any point in my life. This was entirely due to the fact that I was actively doing it for a good part of that time.

Now there were weeks and even months where I did nothing artistic over the course of those two plus years. Sometimes life got in the way and other times I was just flat out lazy. Regardless of this the fact that I made it a habit that I came back to on most days over this period improved my skills drastically.

Fail Frequently

I may not be articulating myself as well as I could be right now and I definitely am not saying that I am the best artist in the world. In fact if you forget everything else you have read in this article, I want you to take away just this one thing. Fail Often. That is right fail as much as you can.

Ok, it sounds like crazy talk but it is not. If you are like me, when you make something, there is always something about it that you look at and think to yourself, “That isn’t right, I messed this part up”. I critique myself and my artwork pretty brutally and feel that I fail to achieve the level of quality that I strive to attain often.

The thing is that, each time I fail at something, it means that I did it. Each time I do something it means that I learned from it. When I make a habit of failing and learning while improving each time, I am getting better.

So go ahead, make a habit of failing, a lot and often. You will become a better artist.


Link of Rhett and Link

We as a family have been watching a ton of Rhett and Link videos recently. I think that my current favorite is Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, while others like the Guacamole Song and Nilla Wafer Top Hat Time.

I recently drew up a pair of ACEO’s, one for Rhett and one for Link, and proceeded to post them up on the Rhett and Link Community where my Link card was featured on, yay!