Thursday, October 23, 2014

Successful Failures.

My open studio was just two days last weekend.  I opened my front door to anyone curious about what, how and why I make art.  For 6 hours a day, I did show and tell.  

I showed my clay, wheel and kiln.  I showed examples of my thrown vs hand built pieces before they are fired.  I showed my underglazes and how I apply them to one of my masks.  I let them play with clay, too.

I told them about my own art journey.  It all started with a rebellion against more math and a basic high school art class where I learned a little of everything from calligraphy and watercolor to drawing and clay.  

I also showed and told them about my failures.  Then and now.

Why would I do that?  

Because I don't want anyone to let failure stop them or think they're all alone.  

When I started throwing clay, I failed at wheel throwing and threw in the towel on art.  

I moved onto writing for my profession while dabbling in watercolor and ink on the weekends.  Many years later, I took a series of very small steps back to art.  Craft classes led to college level drawing, painting, fiber art and sculpting classes.  A small drafting table with watercolors in my bedroom led to a whole room and now two separate studio spaces in my home.  I worked in copper and window screening making sculptures and masks and mixed media pieces which I showed in gallery shows for many years.

I'd left clay behind until a generous man who came to my open studio 5 years ago, gave me his kiln and pottery wheel.  When I admitted my failure at wheel throwing, he still insisted I take it.  You can read more about this story here and here.

It was the first time I'd admitted my failure out loud.  And my failure didn't bother him, or stop him from appreciating my art and seeing my possibilities.  

So, yes, I opened my studio.  I showed my work and my process.  I told about my successes and my failures.  And if I can help one person try again, then my failure has turned into success.  For both of us.


Terry Grant said...

If you don't have failures, you aren't stretching or experimenting, which is the only way to learn and grow—in my opinion! My failures are my most important lessons, and good for you for remembering to share that!

Susan Gallacher-Turner and Mike Turner said...

Thanks, Terry. I have always found that being willing to experiment and play are key to my work. Some of my best pieces came from playing around and making mistakes.