Saturday, August 23, 2014

Failure, Followed by a Mistake, Then Failure

Painted Skimmer. Watercolor Sketch by Ken Januski.

I'm of the philosophy that the quicker you make your first 1,000 mistakes in art, or anything, the quicker you'll make progress. I also have the impression that in many areas this type of thinking is considered old school, or just plain bad. Oh well. I have no doubt of its truth. Any endeavor involves more failures than successes. But if you build on failure it really isn't a problem. And it's the quickest way to success. I only thought of this because it's been 36 hours more or less of failures and mistakes.

Let's deal with the mistake first. Back in June I wrote a post that included a photo of a beautiful Halloween Pennant dragonfly. It reminded me of ones we'd seen last year and when I read in a guide of its fluttery butterfly like flight I confirmed it as just that. But recently I've been looking at my photos of birds and dragonflies from June and July as well as reading through my dragonfly guides. Uh oh, I thought. That may not be a Halloween Pennant.  Well today I finally investigated and discovered that it is in fact a Painted Skimmer. As reparation for my misdeed I did the quick ballpoint pen and watercolor sketch above.

That covers the mistake of the title. But it also covers one of the failures. The above drawing is somewhat off. The abdomen is longer and thinner than I've portrayed it. I do like the colors and I think it captures some of the beauty of a Painted Skimmer, but I also know it could be better. So in a way it's a failure, the most recent failure of the last 36 hours.

Least Sandpipers, Hairy Woodpecker, et al. Field Sketch by Ken Januski.

Yesterday found numerous shorebirds at the Manayunk Canal. The page on right above includes three sketches of Least Sandpipers from yesterday along with a quick sketch of a Great Blue Heron. I partially did them to illustrate my working method elsewhere. In that explanation I said that I liked to start with field sketches, then perhaps do a more developed drawing or watercolor, probably incorporating details from photos that I'd taken, to reinforce what I learned about the bird drawn in the sketch.

So I spent an hour doing the pencil sketch below based largely on a photo from yesterday. I then added watercolor.

Least Sandpiper. Watercolor Sketch by Ken Januski

The second failure, or actually the first, of the last 36 hours. Normally I wouldn't have shown it here or on the other site. But it did illustrate my working method and here it fits in with the theme of failure.

Of course failure is completely relative. Some of my successes would seem like failures to others and some of my failures like successes. The point is that every artist, or actually any person who strives to accomplish something, will meet with failure and disappointment at times. I've managed to put a number together in just 36 hours. But they're a part of growing. And hopefully I'll remember what I've learned, including being more cautious about what I ID publicly.

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