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Taking Risks

03 / 04 / 16

“An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” – Edwin Land.

At school I am sometimes tempted to make safe decisions in order to fit in. I am glad, however, that my teachers and friends encourage me to experiment with new things.  As an artist I have wondered whether creativity is a skill that can be harnessed and improved upon.  I like to think that creativity stems from a combination of three things: hard work, taking risks, and disatisfaction. To me dissatisfaction and optimism describe the same feeling because I simply believe there is always a way to do “it” better.  As Thomas Edison said, “We don’t know a millionth of one percent about anything.”  So it is only natural to be dissatisfied, and dissatisfaction gives me the will to take risks.  Exploring the unknown is risky because of the prospect of failure, but what makes art so exciting is that it is constantly changing.

In history there is a pattern of great innovations not immediately being accepted. Innovative painters such as El Greco, Johannes Vermeer, Édouard Manet, and Vincent van Gogh were all under-appreciated in their lifetime.  A preference for what is normal or acceptable rather than what is good is unhealthy.  We all have the choice whether to make safe paintings or to take risks.  While there is a need for safe paintings such as for paying your bills, I think that students should take the opportunity while at school to push limits and try new things.  Essentially, I think this is the time we should be willing to risk failure.

Painting 3 Still Life

In my painting 3 class I took a risk by darkening one of my paintings by only looking through shaded plastic. The reason I did this is because I wanted to explore the possibilities of having dark saturated colors appear in the light parts of my painting.  I was disappointed overall with my painting because by spending so much time on shifting the value, I had to sacrifice more important things such as directing the composition and drawing accuracy.  While plastic sheets are a helpful tool for observing value and shapes, I determined that it is not practical to rely on them for the entire painting process.  I am glad I made this attempt because I learned a lot about the behavior of color and value and made insight in refining the order of steps for my painting method.  With each failure I come closer to finding the elusive formula of what makes a good painting and with this painting behind me, I endeavor with my next assignment to again try something new.

“Even the knowledge of my own fallibility cannot keep me from making mistakes. Only when I fall do I get up again.” -Vincent Van Gogh