Today we have a guest post from my colleague and friend, Dianne Morr. Dianne is an award-winning speaker and author of Choose Happy, 25 Happiness Habits to Transform Your Life. Today she shares some wisdom she recently learned from an art teacher. Enjoy!
What If You Couldn’t Fail?
In hopes of reaching the end of my journey on this planet without losing all my marbles, I decided to enhance my brain power by learning something new.
Even though I suspected that artistic ability was one of those things you were either born with or not, like red hair, I chose to have a go at acrylic painting.
The first art class I found at a local college lifelong learning center proved to be basically a wine and paint experience without the wine. The teacher walked us step by step through the process of duplicating a painting she had created prior to the class. It was fun but I did not learn enough to do anything on my own. After a little hunting I found an art teacher named Kim who taught technique and coached students through whatever project they chose.
Kim asked me what I hoped to learn. I told her I hoped to develop an artist’s eye so that I could learn to create a work that looked like what I saw. She told me she could help me do that.
We began with a sketch of a still life. As she set me up with a sketchbook and pencils, she also handed me an eraser and explained, “Art is the process of trying and revising.”
Trying and revising. Aha! Editing!
Having spent my entire career in various fields of writing, I knew that a writer does not create a perfect page on her first try. I was stunned to find out that an artist didn’t create perfect work on her first try either. What Kim said sounded like what I told clients I had helped write their books. “Don’t judge your first draft, just get it on paper. You can fix a bad draft, you can’t fix a blank page.”
Now that I know art depends on trying and revising, I saw my first attempt at a pencil sketch as a first draft. Kim gave me tools such as a ruler, a skewer, and that all-important eraser to make my sketch lines as accurate as possible.
Learning new things took on a whole new meaning when I found out that trying and revising can apply to anything. Want to learn to dance? Play a sport? Plant a garden? Give it a try. If your first try doesn’t turn out as you hoped it would, revise your approach, make adjustments, and see if your second try is better. There are no limits on trying and revising. You can keep at it till you are satisfied with your attempt or ready to jump to another activity.
Giving yourself permission to try and revise takes away the fear of failing. When you can’t fail, you can try anything. Enjoy the possibilities. What are you going to try first?