I have been drawing for 38 days. Posting on Instagram. Sending the pictures out into the world. And for the most part these pictures I have drawn have not been good. In fact I would consider most of them failures in the sense they do not look like the actual thing I was drawing.
When I started drawing I thought I would reconnect with an old love and skill of drawing. I thought it would come right back. Like riding a bike. Even though I haven’t ridden a bike in many years I feel confident I could get on a bike and pedal away. Like driving a stick shift. Again, it’s been years but I could start the car. I might stall a few times until I get a good feel for the clutch, but I could zoom off. I thought drawing would be the same.
It is not.
I look back at work I did twenty years ago and by gosh, a tomatoe looks like a tomatoe. Not a hamburger or a kid’s toy. A daisy looks like a gosh darn daisy. Not a pinwheel or a smushed object. And a rock looks like a rock. Not a sea slug or a bowl of pudding or a dead finger. A rock.
So if my goal, in drawing for 100 days, was to make drawings that look like the object I am drawing. Well, I am failing. But. But… if my goal is to draw, to see things I would not otherwise see, to slow down and notice something. Then I am not failing, in fact, I am crushing it.
And here is the other interesting thing that has started to come out of this experiment. It has to do with failing, specifically with failing publicly.
I fear failure.
I don’t like putting things into the world that are not “just right.” I want to wait until it sings to me. But none of these drawings by themselves sing. They phlub or pphhtt or meh. Yet when I add them all together and post them publicly, these small, 10-minute endeavors to draw something, they sing as a group to me. They are beautiful to me in their overall failure to represent what was being drawn.
As unexpected as it is, by failing publicly every day, I am breaking down my fear of failure. I am seeing something beautiful in the group of works that do not sing alone, but together they shine to me. It turns out there can be joy in failure. Because for me, they are growth. They are taking a chance. They are doing the practice every day. Drop by drop.
So if I were my own best friend I would encourage myself to continue failing in many small ways because the outcome is quite unexpected. I feel freer than I did 38 days ago. To take chances. To try something new. To not know what I am doing but jump in anyway. The process has taken me somewhere I did not plan on but am very grateful to be just the same.