Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Failure I am Risking

work in progress - acrylic inks and colored pencil on claybord

Yesterday I posted a pep talk about allowing yourself to fail, today's post tells you why I needed the pep talk.

What is the New Venture, fraught with the potential to fail?

Oil Painting. I am about to start learning to paint with oils. I plan to paint 3 pieces a week for eight weeks. I actually plan on continuing, but for now, two months sounds like a good goal.

Why Oil Painting?
  • Colored Pencil - I have niggling doubts about CP as my primary medium. I'll never abandon pencils completely, but I struggle with having to be so delicate and slow with it. At times, even when I am careful, the results are not entirely to my liking.
  • I hate not being able to say I paint - When people ask me about my art and I start explaining about CPs, eyes glaze over, that is not the reaction I want. Yes, it is a silly bias people have, but nonetheless, why should I always have to fight it?
  • I want to be able to say "I paint in oils" - I've always figured that real artists who trained somewhere were the only ones capable of handling oils. Well, that is just dumb and I don't want to regret it any longer.
  • I'd really love to have a go with the "Painting A Day" phenom. I've been doing a loose "drawing a day" thing on my own. I know the benefits of intensive work like that, I love the discipline of it, and I want to try it in a different medium. Could it lead to me selling pieces on ebay? I don't know, but I do know that if I did sell a piece on ebay I would feel that I had made a major step in my art career. (And no, all my satisfication and security doesn't come from other people's reaction to my work, but it does play a part.)
What Are the Challenges?
  • I don't know how to paint. A brush is not a pencil or pen, they just don't behave the same.
  • Repetition - I'm trying to be disciplined enough to paint three nights a week, every week for eight weeks.
  • Blog - If my paintings are horrendous, what will I post on my blog?
  • Pride - It's definitely going to be ugly in the beginning. And I can probably accept that a few times, but if progress slows and I just become discouraged? The temptation to stop and bail out of everything will be strong.
  • Color - I feel like I have learned very little about color over the last several months and that it always detracts from what I was trying to achieve. Oil painting has alot to do with color! It feels like choosing to wrestle with a sumo, that's scary.


Dougie said...

Hi Rose,

I like reading your blog. There's some interesting aspects to it.

For posting the stuff that fails... absolutely. I use my blog for learning and seeing how I progress (especially in anything new). For example, I started figure drawing a year ago (Go to and click on the Past-Posts: Figure Drawing). You'll see how I've progressed in the last year.

My rule for figure drawing night is to post my top 4 (if I was able to 4 that night). I then analyze what I did wrong (which is a lot). From there, I can check my progress over the year.

Posting failures is just as useful as posting successes.


Stacy said...

Rose, best of luck with your new adventure. It is scary to branch out into something new, but exciting too. And there will probably be some isolated failures along the way, but we never fail in the huge, grand manner we imagine. :)

Since I struggle with some of the same things you do - discipline and color - I'll be here cheering you on and getting inspiration for my own adventures.

Michael said...

Hi Rose,

When I was a teenager, I work almost exclusively in Acrylic. The reason was that I had this silly notion that watercolor and colored pencil we for little kids. Hey, I was a teenager, what did I know? Also, when I tried to work with oil, all I got was mud. I simply could not get the hang of it.

Then I started watching Bob Ross. In fact, I watched him for years without doing anything, I just watched. Then one day while watching something snapped in my head and I suddenly got it. I went to the store and bought everything I needed to paint with oils. I went to the hardware/lumber store and bought everything I needed to build an easel.

My first painting wasn't the really awesome work that Bob Ross did, but it wasn't mud either. I spent many years working with oild before moving to colored pencil. I used a wet on wet technique for everything, include the nudes that I painted for a while.

If it wasn't for the fact that I live in a motor home full time and travel, I would still be working with the medium. But as it is, there is no room to put paintings to let them dry. Especially with two cats living with us :-)

Good luck with the new direction. I am anxious to see your progress.

Rose Welty said...

Dougie, thanks and glad you like the blog. I'm sure that I will end up posting plenty of failures, as you say for the purposes of learning and marking progress. Enjoyed looking at your blog, you have improved in your figure drawing (not an easy thing to do, well done.) Small suggestion...I wanted to check out your website when I saw the posts about it, but there were no links in the posts or in the sidebar, I googled you and found it, but it would be easier with a link. :D You have a great website, advertise it!

Stacy, thanks and you are right, even just beginning the adventure is a success. I'll be looking forward to your encouragement and cheering in the days ahead.

Michael, I'm glad to hear another person tell me that they love oils, that really helps! I'll be watching and reading all I can on this journey, there's plenty to learn.

Ann said...

Good for you Rose! You will never know whether you like painting with oils unless you try! I love oils, learned to paint with oils, but remember that every new medium has its own learning curve. Have fun with it. I'm looking forward to seeing what you do!

Jeanette said...

Oils are great fun to play with Rose. You do need to decide if you want a smooth refined surface or something more painterly.

I'll be watching to see what you create. Of course some you won't like, but others will be masterpieces and you'll be learning all the time.

vivien said...

oil is my primary medium

but hey - you don't have to go slow and careful with cp's - use them fast and sketchy it's more fun :>) (for me anyway!)

Jo Castillo said...

Rose, with as much dedication as you have to learning, this will be a quick study. One of the best oil color teachers on PBS was Helen Van Wyk. When I get home I will send you some of my tapes. Not until October, you may not need them by then. :)

Dougie said...

Thanks, Rose! With the change-over to the new blog structure, I totally forgot to put my link back on my blog site.

Jennifer Rose said...

Good luck with your learning of oil paints! :D And have fun with it too though.

Jana Bouc said...

I so know what you're talking about! After years of building competence and success with watercolor I decided to learn to paint in oils. I've been working at it about a year now, and am finally feeling like I'm on the edge of "getting it."

I wrote a post (on my blog very similar to yours when I started with oils. The post is about moving from unconscious incompetence to conscious competence. At that point (11/14/07) I was firmly planted in the very frustrating 2nd stage of learning: conscious incompetence. (The stages are unconscious incompetence; conscious incompetence; conscious competence; unconscious competence, when it comes naturally).

Oil painting brings with it so many more things to learn which at first seemed overwhelming. I've used my blog to post my progress, even when I mess up. Oil painting is quite a journey but a very deep and rewarding one! Congratulations on taking the plunge. It will be fun to watch your progress. (p.s. i found you via Katherine's weekly Making a Mark rundown this week).

Ujwala said...

the teacher in a class i'm attending gave me a very similar talk on taking risks and failure on monday :D here's a link to get you started on oil painting. i hope you find them useful.
all the best!