Why are we afraid to fail? I have been contemplating this idea for a long time. I think my pondering is initiated by the kids creating at Studio4Art and ask, "You can't fail in art, right?" Many, if not all art teachers share this wisdom with their students. When students are told this, it is usually in the form of whatever you made is fine because there is "no failure in art", or it is used to alleviate fear of getting started with the project. I believe that the essence of what they are saying is there, but the true value and full interpretation is being lost, mostly because the explanation of what failure is in art (and in life) has not been vocalized, explained to a degree of what failure can be. Failure is all a part of the creative process and is in no way bad, "messing up" is okay, it is how we learn. Instead the sentence is said, and everyone moves on with the art project. My thought, art is a perfect place to share that you can make a bad piece of art, known to some as a failure, believe me I have tons. But, bad art, the failed pieces, are the reasons that you either choose to push creativity, not giving up and keep exploring on the same piece, or you learn what you don't like and change it for the next piece. My college professor explained that you have 1000 bad paintings in your career, be thankful when you get one of them out of the way.
Art is process. It cannot be gained by simply following a step-by-step instructional project that just creates fear to explore and damages the value of oneself to have the capacity of creating from their own imagination. Many, many ideas, explorations, art projects and inventions follow a process, it is called, the creative process*. And the creative process embodies that there will be failure, except it isn't looked at as failure, as much as it is seen as a part of the process. The more creative you are, the more each pass at what others see as failure, you see as a stepping stone to push further. Failure is not negative. It should be looked at as a place of discovery and the acceptance and reward of change. Remember the phrase, try and try again?
Now change...That will have to be for the next post, because as an observer, the reality that we have a difficult time accepting change, is a big one.
painting: Artist Javier. Middle School teacher learning about oil painting with his class.
Convergent and divergent thinking
Creative Cognition Approach
The Explicit-Implicit Interaction (EII) theory
Creativity and everyday imaginative thought