Points of Failure

During my study on consciousness I discovered how I could act like a ball in a pinball machine. External factors shove me from left to right, up and down. On the background, old patterns from my youth and processes ran simultaneously. This combination of on the spot factors and long-running processes can work very counter-productive.

When I decided to only paint and photograph I also decided to pay special attention to my processes. The goal was and is to improve the quality my work. And to improve my level of satisfaction and my success as an autodidact artist. I am a male, 49 years old and in a foreign country in the middle of nowhere. Three good reasons to not expect much help or support.

And thus, I do not want to waste time and slouch. What works, what does not work and why are questions that keep me focussed. So what follows is a list of points of failure I identify while I work. This is a raw list and I return to this page infrequently to update it.

New tools

New tools take time to master and I estimated I would have some grip on Blender 2.8 within a couple of days. It is not that I spent full days to learn Blender and that might have been one cause of my frustration. The grand idea was to model 3d spaces I need for my paintings and apply realistic lighting. The lighting part turned out to be the hard part.

This partially because my computers are not equipped to deal well with 3d rendering. But also because Blender is new to me and there are few tutorials I can follow or are even useful for my task.

Thus, after 5 or 6 days of modelling and rendering, I got a very basic and unsatisfying image. When I began to paint the energy was gone even though initially I expected to be well-prepared and full of confidence. It was as if the magical tension to explore the painting has been suffocated by the detailed exploration inside Blender…

The good news is I know Blender 2.8 a bit better and took some photos instead:

The Ageing Apple and Air Plant

Row with the oars you got

This is perhaps the must profound statement I repeat inside my mind when I tend to slip into la-la-land. And la-la-land is the world of how things should be. La-la-land is where I can find many, very many people. It is a land where nothing happens as the objective is always out of reach. In la-la-land, you no shortage of excuses though.

But let me return to the profound statement: row with the oars you got. There are so many reasons to not start to do something. A lack of skill, no good brushes, no good paint and so forth. In the past I could have made a list of the many things I should have before I could paint. The fact is, I need very little that is not readily available. I cannot imagine what I would need aside of time.

No brushes? Take an old sock, your finger or whatever holds paint for a moment. No paint? Make paint out of stuff that sticks and has some colour. No canvas and stretcher? Take A4 (Letter) copy paper, toilet paper, the wall or floor. Any of these choices will set you off onto a path and things will evolve at step you take.


Here a current example, from my recent weeks. I have the opportunity to do some photo shoots. The problem is my camera cannot deal well with low light circumstances. I have no extra lights and on top of that my 17-85 mm zoom lens broke. I looked for a while around for a replacement camera, extra lights and a new lens. But then it dawned on me, row with the oars you got.

The photo shoots might happen later this spring perhaps which eases up on the light situation then. I do have an excellent 50 mm lens (about 70 – 80 mm on an APS-C camera). Thus, if the space is large enough I can do an available light shoot with this lens. Alternatively I can paint what I have in mind, or, integrate some concepts I like to photograph.

Fear of failing

“I am not good enough” or “there are so many great artists” or “I can never be as good as…”. Be the best person you possibly can be, is my response. Another often repeated piece of advice I gave to my students is phrased as a question: what is your best next step?

I got eyes and ears and see so much great work. But I do not paint to be better than another artist. I paint because I like it a lot, so much I cannot imagine doing anything else any more. If or when other people think something about my work, then that is fine. Of course I like positive feedback and I do not like ignorant comments. But this should not stop me or you to follow your path.

My antidote to this is to publish every painting I do. I use now primarily Instagram for this. In this short period I notice already a tiny difference. I am still very curious how many people press the heart icon. But I am even more eager to continue with my paint work and spit out more work. This is still hard to describe and hopefully I can do a better job at a later time.

In conclusion, there are always people you consider better. So it is, let it be as that never stops. Fail the way only you can fail, fail a lot, produce a lot, document the failures and you shall see that the combined failings of a failure like yourself starts to be something of significance.

Seeing too much art work

When I watch too many paintings by other people, I begin to feel lost. There are many interesting works of art out there. From each of those works I can adopt an element and integrate it into my work. I do not yet seem to be able to choose or filter well. These images become entangled and produce a hotchpotch instead of a combination of great concepts.

So now I either limit my exposure to other people’s work. Or, I wait for a couple of hours before I continue my paintings.

No storage, no lens

In my post called “From large to small” I write about how I turn two problems into a new creative direction.