Learning and failure

I’ve become a bit obsessive about figure drawing over the last few days. I tried my first life class last week, on Zoom, and I’ve spent hours sketching away since then. When I’m doing it, I forget everything else. I haven’t been thinking about whether my efforts were any ‘good’ or not. That didn’t matter.

Then yesterday, when I wanted to do a bit of sketching, I was distracted and allowed myself to be sucked into a stream of educational YouTube videos about how to draw better. Suddenly, my efforts felt crap, and I felt discouraged. The joy of making was gone.

I would like to get better at drawing. There’s nothing wrong with that. But I don’t want to confuse an optimistic desire to learn with a negative sense of inadequacy or failure. It can be hard to walk on the right side of this line. It takes attention.

Here’s a quote on this subject from Eric Booth, who wrote ‘The Everyday Work of Art’. It’s a brilliant book for anyone who wants to bring the practice of creative making into their lives:

“We must always remember what we tend to forget about the work of art. What is important is the doing of the work: not you, not the reception of the work, not the quality of the resulting products, not how you feel about the work or how the work makes you feel, not what others think of what you are doing, or what you are going to tell them about your doings. The engagement in the process is the whole enchilada: everything else is a fringe benefit.”

#10 of 30. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.