Failure is always an option

Sometimes when projects don't go as you intend they become "learning experiences" showing you things you didn't know or reminding you of things you forgot. Recently I had one of those "learning experiences."

I'm in a knitting group that has a Holiday gift exchange, this is a great opportunity for me to try something new in a small format. This year I had big plans and a 4"x6" mini canvas. Last year I painted a sheep in a scarf, this year I was determined to top myself.

2012's gift excange

I decided I wanted to paint an ode to the dogs playing poker but make it knitting related and have sheep knitting around a table.

So I sketched, and I started on the canvas with acrylic,

the fateful start

I soon realized that the space was too small for all of the critters I had drawn and that my speed with acrylic would take more time that I wanted to devote to the project. So I switched to watercolor paper.

The start of the hill

It was at this point that the train wreck this became started down the hill to its ultimate end. I got my initial layers down but was not satisfied by the initial drawing or the result, thus I decided to try something new. Colored pencil on top of watercolor and ink, what could go wrong? Yes the example I saw was on smooth paper and I was using rough. Yes the space for details in this piece was just a bit too small, but hey it's a gift exchange why not try something new?

Well the colored pencil made the colors brighter but I still didn't love the picture. It was a "meh" but I didn't want to devote any more time to the project so I washed my hands of it. Except for that thought in the back of my mind, which was confirmed by both my mom and a friends reaction to the picture, polite dislike. With one day to go it was time to start over.

First I had to think about what went wrong on the first try,

  • too many subjects in a small space
  • not allowing enough time to bring out the details of each subject
  • cramming in other ideas to cover for the bad execution ( one of the sheep is crocheting a tardis)
  • too many new techniques at once

With this in mind I slapped some watercolor ground on the canvas and searched my photographs for a good subject for a knitting gift. I found a llama I had seen a few years ago on Whibey Island. When the title "Llama the Yarnbringer" popped into my head I knew I was on the right track.

Llama the Yarnbringer

With a clear focus this painting came more quickly and freely, resulting in a better project and a happily received exchange gift.

This whole experience reminded me not only of what works for me but also that failure is always an option because you can always grow and learn from that failure by making a "learning experience."