Lucía Duque

Live a Creative Life Without Fear of Failure

Although you may know me from my watercolor garden, that’s not all I do. In addition to having my online watercolor business, I paint about social issues and my experiences, trips, etc.

My favorite technique is acrylic. After working several years with a very specific style that was working and selling very well, I began to lose interest in it. I no longer made those paintings with the same excitement.

My life changed. I had other things to express that no longer fit with paintings that took me to my Latin American roots. Although it sounds very crazy, since it affected my finances, I decided to start something new and start from scratch. So I stopped painting that style and went into a research process for a new pictorial expression.

It's been almost three years of changes in my life:

getting married, traveling often to my husband's country (a culture so different from mine), I had to discover that something was changing within me, asking myself the question, what do I want to express?

My birthday was this past week and I've celebrated many beautiful things that I've been living during this season. Although I am loving the process of this new work with everything I'm learning, discovering and experimenting, like those well-known "artistic blocks" that are nothing more than the fear of making mistakes. My head was also full of insecure thoughts like:

What if people don't like it? What if I'm wrong? And what if it's a failure?

We sometimes think that all the great artists were born being geniuses and that none of them had these fears but it's just not true. The more I investigate about them, the more I realize that everyone at some point in their journey has asked the same questions when they had to undertake something new.

And what happens when we make a mistake? Making a mistake does not mean that we are on the wrong path. All artists experience artistic disappointments. Will Gompertz talks about it in his book "Think Like An Artist" and explains that in a creative context that artists don't fail. Although there is a sense of failure, but that's part of our artistic journey.

"We don't always know how to value the fact that experiencing great creative disappointments is normal and necessary, and not at all indicative of having to throw in the towel. There is a temptation to believe that when we fail, the time has come to give up, but the truth is that real artists don't usually think that way. In reality, a real artist interprets failure as another part of the creative process, even though it's undesirable."

I am still in the middle of the development of my next work so I can't tell you much about it. But I can tell you that it's a very enjoyable process, of which every day that I work in it, thousands of emotions come out because it has a lot to do with my identity as a woman, with the transitions of life, our struggles and victories.

One of the reasons why I love teaching children is because of what I learn from them and about how to avoid this obsession that us adults have with results. Also, how they help me to have correct perspective on the fear of failure.

What can I learn from a 3 or 4 year old girl who just picked up a brush for the first time?

So much!

For example, you don't have to teach a child to enjoy the moment. They don't think of doing something nice for everyone to applaud them. Their true motivation is to play with paint, paint with their hands, discover new colors, etc. They enjoy every brushstroke. And when they finish, their smile from ear to ear is not conditioned by what others think of what they have done, but in the pleasure of having played with the painting.

A child's painting doesn't usually have the negativity from the first brushstroke saying "this is going to turn out bad". Because whatever you do will be fine. As tutors, we are aware that they need to go through a learning process and that is why we encourage them and celebrate their small achievements.

When I teach adult classes, this is the biggest block I see in my students. The hardest part to teach adults isn't watercolor technique, but to change perspectives: to stop looking from a negative point of view about their painting and start doing it from a positive point of view: that every small step that they take in the middle of learning is a celebration. And to be honest, no matter how many years I've been painting, that negativity also appears in my head sometimes like a cloud obscuring my creativity.

It's very important to remind myself that I have permission to be wrong and to enjoy it as I did when I was a child. To not obsess with thinking about the result that I don't achieve, but to focus on the moment that I am living and experimenting with each mixture of color, with each brush stroke, etc. and when I do this, without realizing it, suddenly, I get what I really wanted that I couldn't achieve before.

We have so much to learn from children because they don't have those thoughts of how it "should be"!

For example, when they paint a blue tree and a green sun without being restricted of whether it is right or wrong to do so.

This is still my greatest reminder when I work in my studio. To recognize that we all have a child inside, no matter how long we have hidden it in some forgotten room in our heart. That child is willing to be part of our life. How nice it is to be aware of it in order to silence the fear of making mistakes by celebrating every step we take with our painting.

So with this reflection, today I leave you with this question:

Do you aim to free your inner child from that conscious box and let him/her fly with creativity where he/she wants to take us?

Thank you very much for taking a little while of your time to read and I'll see you you in the next post!

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