1. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Screw up or set aside?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by OurJud, Nov 16, 2015.

    How do you all handle mistakes in your creativity projects?

    I've dabbled in watercolour landscapes for most of my adult life - never exhibited or sold, and can go years without going anywhere near a paint brush - but I've always struggled coping with my disasters - of which there have been countless.

    When I feel a painting start to go wrong, anger and frustration start to take hold and it inevitably results in me going into an internal rage during which I will purposely destroy the painting by daubing paint everywhere, followed by the screwing up of the painting and probably the launching of a few heavy objects at the nearest wall.

    Now I know how laughably immature this all sounds, but it's something over which I feel I have no control. The odd thing is, this doesn't happen with my writing. In the case of writing that isn't going well, I simply lose interest, calmly and matter-of-factly.

    Anyone else struggle with frustration when their creativity projects go wrong?
     
  2. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    Do creativity projects also include our main-focus writing?

    Because holy hell I am so mad at myself right now for being so utterly dry.

    The other day I went to tinker with my second chapter and skimming it over just made me want to punch my monitor. There is just no comparison between my first chapter and the utter shit that is my second.

    The most annoying part for me is that I know I can write better than that, because gah, two pages back it's wonderful. I look at what I'm trying to puke out now and it's like, "Really? This is your voice right now?" :bigmeh:

    It's important to vent somehow, but I don't recommend taking it out on your work. :unsure:
     
  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    What if you had some other thing handy, to take your frustration out on? A punching bag, for example?
     
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  4. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    I don't screw up. I also don't get lost. (It's an adventure, damn it!)

    I think "screw-up" is a mind set.
    I use place-holders so I can keep working and then go back to another area when I have more information, time, etc. Everything can be changed in the long-run and I don't believe in striving for perfection. As any Christian can tell you, there was only even one perfect person . . . and they killed him, so you might as well relax and enjoy the ride.
     
  5. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    For that reason I'm excluding writing, because as you say it can be changed and improved upon at a later date. I'm talking specifically about creative projects that can literally be ruined by a mistake.

    My anger doesn't typically come from making a mistake, it's the lack of ability which results in those mistakes - such as a poor command of watercolour as a medium... for example.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2015
  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    But failure is inevitable when you're learning something. I'd guess that a person would have to create hundreds of bad watercolors before creating a good one. If every bad one puts you into a rage, it's going to be hard to get to that "good one" state.

    Edited to add: at least, a destructive rage is going to make it hard. For example, you'd surely want to have the failed watercolor intact to learn from, rather than blotted and crumpled.
     
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  7. soujiroseta
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    soujiroseta Senior Member Contributor

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    I totally agree with this. What you think is stressful and out of control seems like a part of the creative process. I feel the smae thing while writing and sometimes get really bogged down when things aren't going well but try to keep experimenting and discovering where i went wrong and what i need to do to avoid a similar experience in the future.

    This is spot on too. No one succeeds the first time without having failed countless times before.
     
  8. BrandyTimmons
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    BrandyTimmons Member

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    I do charcoal drawings and it pisses me off when I make a mistake. I usually give the imperfect drawing to my kids to color, they make it pretty.
     
  9. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    But do you not have the urge to punch the nearest thing when this happens?? Or is that a bloke thing?

    I suppose being a perfectionist and wanting to be good at something from the very first time doesn't help matters.

    I think when I analyse things, the reason I don't experience the same anger with my writing, is because when writing I'm in full control of what I'm doing. If the words won't come, I just have to accept that and try again later, but when painting my watercolours I don't have that same control because I haven't mastered the medium and the paint won't do what I'm trying to make it do... if that makes any sense.

    I tried to do this in watercolour... what could be simpler?? And yet it came out looking like a 4 year old had done it.

    (It was for practice only, before anyone screams copyright theft)

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2015
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  10. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Give yourself more credit - that is much better than a 4-year-old's handiwork. Sure it's not stunning. But it's certainly not ugly. I quite like it.

    Before you dismiss that as the comment of one who cannot draw :supercool:here's what I drew my husband earlier this year:

    20150320_222026.jpg

    So, I'm not terrific but I'm certainly not bad. Your painting really isn't that bad either I think.

    I only want to know how come much of the painting is a deep brown, however... I'm also guessing your work lacks a certain lightness watercolours should have. When I look at your picture, I think it must be acrylics or something, not watercolours. Which might mean you're using the paint wrong. (this is just a guess. My watercolours are far worse than yours)

    Anyway watercolours are very hard to control. My advice would be try simpler landscapes, and try painting things you actually expect to screw up - you know, things you know are for experimentation and not meant for a frame. If you're really serious about this, hire a teacher. I'd say landscapes might also be harder because there're not so many defined shapes and boundaries - you should start perhaps with some simple still life. A flower maybe? Beautiful colours with very definite shapes which allows you a bit more control.

    There might also be tools you're missing - masking fluid to ensure certain parts remain pure white, since white paint shouldn't be used in watercolours, sponge for effects or perhaps for soaking up excess water. Anyway personally what I've always found the hardest with watercolours is getting just the right amount of water onto the paper and knowing what to do with the paint fast enough before the paper dries!

    But if you're looking for more control, perhaps try acrylics and/or oils instead. The beauty of watercolours is its fluidity (which yours above lacks).

    Anyway, in answer to your question - when I screw up a drawing/painting, I become extremely sad and deflated and I lose interest in working on it any further.
     
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  11. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sorry, I mustn't have made it clear in my post. That painting isn't mine (hence the line about copyright).

    I think this is oils or acrylic, like you say, and if I could paint as good as that I'd never have started this thread. No, I simply took this landscape and tried to recreate it in watercolours.

    The browns are shadows from a tree line to the left that we can't see. At least that's my interpretation. I think it's a wonderful painting.
     
  12. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    When you say "what could be simpler" you're being sarcastic, right? You don't really expect to have that level of skill without hundreds, probably thousands, of hours of trying and failing, do you?
     
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  13. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know what you mean. The painting and brush work shows a great command of the medium, but when I say 'what could be simpler?' I mean considering the simplicity of the scene; a sky, horizon line with a few distant trees, and a shadowed foreground. There's no complicated structures or finely detailed foreground trees. No people or animals. I look at it and think, I can do that. Okay so it won't look exactly the same, as watercolour has properties that result in a totally different finish, but when I break the painting down I don't understand why I can't recreate it successfully.

    That said, I've tried only once, so to say I can't is really rather silly.

    My whole logic over this is all rather silly, really, and amounts to nothing more than a combination of negative attitudes that I'm unable to prevent taking hold; lack of patience, unwillingness to learn, quitting when I find things too difficult, a desire to be proficient without any training or experience.. etc etc etc.

    I know that what I need is my own style, just as a writer needs his own voice. If I ever find that, my paintings will improve ten-fold, as I won't be constantly looking up to the paintings I'm trying to mimic.
     
  14. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I was thinking: Does it have to be watercolors? Am I right that with watercolors, once it's on the paper it's over, while with, say, oils, you can scrape and scrape off and touch up and so on?
     
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  15. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    NO.

    If you're filled with self-loathing because you can't approach the paintings you're "trying to mimic", it's more likely that what you need is more practice.

    I've seen drawings done by Picasso when he was studying...people with full anatomical correctness, and great detail of musculature. Only once he'd learned to "mimic" the best that the Old Masters could achieve did he start to develop his own voice.
     
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  16. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    Absolutely!

    I've been told that my art work has recognisable traits. My 'style' came about by necessity. I've always been really clumsy (my A&E visits are proof enough of that) so the fine motor skills used in painting constantly let me down—an errant brush stroke here, a spill of water there. That's how I came to start working digitally. No matter what mistakes I make, they are always fixable. I was already passing familiar with Photoshop for sizing and touching up photographs, so I started to play about to see whether I could come up with something that looked painted. I took a notion to do a female nude and this is what I came up with...

    1-nude_texture.jpg

    ...It's not perfect but at least I managed to complete what I set out to achieve, and with minimal cursing and kicking of table legs, frustrated by my own ineptitude.

    You say that you attempted to copy the original painting using watercolours. I reckon that's a mistake right there. ;) The original worked because it is what it is, and you tried to turn it into something it isn't. As McKK says, the beauty of working in watercolours is the fluidity.

    If I were you I'd stop trying to imitate. How can you possibly start off with someone else's finishing point and expect to feel satisfied? You are setting yourself up to fail. You need to find your own starting off point, your own workflow, to get the creative buzz you are looking for. Familiarity with different mediums, composition, and appreciation for lighting and texture...these are all things that can be worked on. You could be terrible with one and talented at another. Find what you are good at and make it work for you.
     
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  17. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Holy shit that's good! I'd hang that on my wall in a heartbeat,

    I know what you mean about finding my own style and not imitating, and I agree. Just unsure how to go about it. Maybe I'll paint my next landscape with the brush held in my mouth.
    There's no self-loathing, just frustration. But you're right, I need more practice. Point is, I think that practice needs to be my own work.
    Yes, once watercolours are down, they're down. You have a minute or so to work with the paint, but once it dries that's it.
    I've built up a good amount of watercolour materials over the years, and have never bothered trying other mediums. Doing so now is not an expense I need right now.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2015
  18. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    To be honest, you sound like me with regards to languages and music. I wish I could be like my sister, who plays the violin, piano, guitar and the harmonica - the latter two she taught herself. She's been asked to play at friends' weddings and she's part of a local orchestra playing as second and first violinist, and she can also play by ear and recreate her favourite tunes on the piano without reading any music. How I wish I could be like her! I grew up in a house always filled with piano and violin music, and later when I was a teenager one of her singer friends often came and accompanied her either with her voice or together on the violin.

    But you would never catch me practising. And therein lies the difference between me and my sister. She actually loves music. I simply enjoy it on a very simple level - like the reader who enjoys a good story but would never bother to write her own.

    I've come to terms with this now and wouldn't bother paying for music lessons now, though I highly appreciate anyone who could play an instrument.

    So I gotta ask: are you sure you care about watercolours enough - love it enough - to want to put in the hard work?

    Because if you don't, there's little point in wasting your time on it. Simply accept the fact that you don't have the stamina for the hard work, then sit back and appreciate the beauty of other artists. Being able to appreciate something still isn't the same as loving it enough to actually do it yourself. Occasionally dabble in watercolours for pleasure by all means, but there's little point giving yourself an unreachable target such as creating a painting worthy of being hung on the wall if you know you cannot or will not put in the time needed to practice and endure. For myself with my example in music, I'm quite happy being able to play chopsticks :D I'd be happy if I could play Fur Elise and A Whole New World, too, both of which my sister informs me are super easy (ha!) - but I wouldn't dream of playing a concert piece considering my level of motivation lol.

    What you need isn't your own style - that will come with practice. What you need right now is patience and endurance and an honest answer to whether or not you're happy and able to put in the effort required to reach the level you hope to reach.

    Anyway - don't be too discouraged. I'd post this watercolour I did if only I had it with me, but I painted that when I was maybe 14, 15 years old and in the foreground is a corner of the shore as you look out to sea against the sunset - and that little piece of shore looked very much like this:

    [​IMG]

    Except that that image is still prettier than what I actually produced :D

    So hey, learn to laugh at your own blunders! It happens :superagree:
     
  19. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    You know that's a great question, and the honest answer is no.

    That said, I think it's just the way I am. I'm incredibly passionate about many things, and wish I could do them to the level of those I look up to. And yet I don't possess the strength or discipline to practice and learn. It's just easier not to - I can't put it any simpler than that.

    However, I painted a landscape the other night and the finished thing got a brief nod of approval from me, which is about the best anything I create will ever get.
     
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  20. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    It occurs to me that I tend to avoid pursuits where what I might call the "minimum useful achievement" is one that requires a lot of practice and skill to get to.

    Drawing/painting and music have, at least as I perceive it, little to no value below a certain skill level.

    On the other hand, photography can immediately produce pleasing snapshots of one's friends, a beginner gardener has a good chance of producing a nice tomato, and an adult who graduated high school usually has enough skill to write a blog.

    For decades, I tried to sew above my skill level of the time, and repeatedly gave up. Now most of my sewing projects are at or below my skill level, and when I push my skills I do so in a context that still produces a usable achievement. (Weird wobbly pintucks on a work blouse would get thrown out; weird wobbly pintucks on pajamas can still be used.) And now I sew fairly steadily.

    Offhand, I don't know how this applies to the specific issue of the watercolors, unless there's some "good enough is good enough" use that you could put them to? Hand painted Christmas cards? A blog that tracks your growth as an artist?
     
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  21. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Good point, CF.

    I'm being hard on myself... over critical, I just need to admit this fact a bit more often.

    I look at other amateur watercolours, such as the type you find hung in libraries and cafes - where the artist has asked for it to be displayed and maybe agreed a small percentage of a sale to the proprietor - and think, "Man these are dreadful!" and I don't just mean they're not to my taste, I mean they're dreadful on a technical level.

    And then I try to imagine my own efforts hanging there, and what others would be thinking, and more to the point what I would be thinking, if I didn't know me.

    If I'm honest, I suspect my own thoughts would be along the lines of '... clearly some potential, but...'

    I'm not even sure what point I'm trying to make now :meh:
     
  22. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    I found a link to a letter written by Vonnegut to a fan on my FB page this morning, in which Vonnegut urges the would-be writer to write a six line poem that rhymes, the best he could possibly make it. He was not to show or recite it anyone but instead rip it to pieces, and distribute it amongst the trash. Vonnegut saw the inherent value of the piece as what it took to create it, the writer being gloriously rewarded as they would have learned about themselves in the process of making it. He saw the struggle to learn as a 'becoming' of sorts. I was a bit gobsmacked reading it because he perfectly captured how I feel when I attempt to create art. I'm no sooner finished one piece than on to the next. I always feel driven, not to outdo the piece that came before, but to learn something new from the next one.
     
  23. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    This way is more cheerful - with lighter skies, figures in foreground, and suggestion of property. Monat.jpg
     
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  24. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    You shouldn't have done that @matwoolf. Now you've given me an urge to mess with it. ;)
     
  25. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    Blame @matwoolf and the fact I had a spare half-hour. If his is more cheery, dunno what the hell mine is. :D

    1-aaa.jpg
     

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