Over the last few days I’ve been working on a picture that just wouldn’t work. I didn’t give up, because often the best pictures come out of initial problems. But in this case, maybe I should have. 

Because everything was wrong – the shading, the contrast, the size and especially the composition. Even having pulled every trick out of my artist’s bag, the picture remained a total failure.

A friend said ‘that’s still a thousand times better than I could ever manage.’ Another said ‘it’s not that bad.’

But the truth is that, as artists, we know when we have failed. We know when our imagination exceeded our abilities. Or, as in this case, when real life intruded and messed with our minds, leaving us unable to truly express ourselves.

It should be an easy thing to deal with, because it’s such a frequent experience. We should be able to shake it off and move on. But there is always this crisis of confidence when it happens. 

This morning as I fretted about my failed picture, I turned on the radio and caught a fragment of an interview with Annie Lennox. In that fragment, I caught these words: “Of course there is doubt. I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t doubt my ability.”

And I thought ‘OK, if Annie Lennox doubts her abilities, maybe it’s not so bad that I doubt mine.’

Here’s to failure, doubt and coming out the other side

 

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