Success is built on a mountain of failures


Some people think that art excellence is based only on a God-given talent. But this is not actually true. It takes a lot of practice, experimentation and many failures. Not every painting will be good or even successful, but the more you practice, the odds of success will increase.

A baseball pitcher throws a ball at 90 miles per hour but it’s his control over that ball that means more than its speed. It takes years and years of practice and a lot of failures along the way. Painting is not any different. You may have some talent but most of your skill will determine how good you really are.

In college, I had a name given to me by the other art students — “the painting factory.” Yes, I turned out a lot of paintings but I also had a lot of bad paintings and a lot of downright failures. But I kept on painting and experimenting, and in time, I didn’t have as many failures except when I experimented with new colors or new procedures. I then had to learn how they would work for me.

My failure rate goes up for a time then it goes down as I perfect my skill with new colors and procedures. One who does not explore will fail less but will become bored with what they are doing and their paintings will ultimately show it. One way to keep fresh is to keep experimenting. Failure is but a part of the process of looking into something new. Failure is not an option, it is very much part of the entire creative process. Ask any inventor how many times did they make something before it finally worked.

Take some time and read about those who became successful. It came about through a lot of failures. One success is built on a mountain of failures. There’s an old proverb that I keep close to me to read often and I feel that it should be read as often as possible. It sums up most of what I have been saying about persistence — press on.

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not, nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not, unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not, the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

Harry Croghan is an artist, photographer, writer and teacher. He can be reached at 740-852-4906 or by e-mail at hrcroghan@icloud.com.

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