ARTICLE: my greatest failure and what I learned from it

Red Dog painting by Amy Marie Adams
Back in 2007, there was a call for artists to paint murals in a hotel in Brussels. Artists were required to submit works and a jury determined who would be chosen. I submitted a few animal paintings and we were required, if selected, to choose one and paint it. In December 2007, having been selected, I traveled to Brussels. Here, a great opportunity was presented to me. It would hopefully bring me exposure, add an item for my CV to give me more ‘credibility’ and generate future commissions. While I am grateful for the experience – I met a lot of great artists, broke the barrier of fear of being commissioned to paint something on a larger scale in a public place, etc. – it was a disaster of sorts, a true failure in my opinion. Well, why would I want to share my failure? Why not?

The greatness of the failure is that I learned from it.

I have decided to share this experience because it was a valuable learning experience for me. First, let me share 2 of the 3 submissions, a digital image of an oversize cat head and my painting ‘red dog,’ that I ultimately did not choose as the subject for the project.

Things that I did “wrong,” and how I could have made things right or, what I learned from this experience.

Lesson 1. I DID NOT IMPLICITLY TRUST MYSELF = TRUST YOURSELF

I fell into a trap of my own making by asking some friends which work they would like to see as a mural. That is not the wrong part. The wrong part was that even though I did not agree with them, I painted the mural that they preferred. Thereby going against my own gut instinct, because I did not trust myself.

Lesson 2. I AM NOT A WILD BULL OR RAM! = DON’T RAM THROUGH OBSTACLES

I had requested the dimensions of the room and made cartoons to transfer the design before travelling to Brussels. Why would you think this is wrong? That in itself is not wrong, had the room actually been that size. But it was not. When I arrived, I was given a room that was smaller since it was in a courtyard corner and the dimensions were incorrect. The cartoons should have been rendered useless and a new approach should have been taken (maybe that was the universes way of saying to choose one of the images that I would have chosen originally) but inexperienced and suprised I used the oversize cartoons of the dogs and ditched the flower template.

My greatest artistic failure and what I learned from it.

The end result is this mural (a screenshot from the Hotel Bloom website) that I dislike immensely and am even ashamed to proclaim that I was the artist responsible for it, but nonetheless I am – so eventhough I would like to do is exclude the image itself from this ‘lesson’ in failure, it is necessary, so here it is in it’s glorious failure –

What I took away from this experience:

    1. Trust yourself. You know what is best in the given situation.
    2. When presented with a new set of obstacles or problems, think them through and realize that you can go around them.
    3. When fear presents itself, you can –
    a) feel the fear and do it anyway
    b) know that FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real.
    4. Learn from your failures and as in this case, share them with others, using them as a teaching tool.
Dog Mural by artist Amy Marie Adams