Learn to Fail Better

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

— Writer Samuel Beckett, in Worstward Ho (1983).

It’s to be expected that we want all our paintings to turn out “right” (defined as a bit better than I envisaged) and it’s inevitably disappointing when things turn out “wrong” (defined as a scale starting at one thing I couldn’t resolve to my satisfaction and ending at only one thing I like, which may even be that I’ve stopped). It’s unrealistic of course (though there’s always the hope of “next time”, unless you truly do believe you’re a one-trick pony).

What is crucial for artistic development is how you deal with what you perceive as failure. Do you let it paralyse you into inaction or avoidance or do you grant yourself permission to spend time learning and use it as motivation to try again. In the words of Samuel Becket, learning to “fail better”.

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