If In Doubt… Do It Anyway

One of my favorite bits of life philosophy has always been the admonition that “If in doubt… don’t.” In other words, if something doesn’t feel right, don’t go along with it. For life, that’s good advice, I think. For art, maybe not such wise counsel. More and more, I’m learning that even when I have my doubts, I can gain a lot from jumping in and trying something out.

There are times when maybe we do want to hold back, times when a project just doesn’t interest us, or times when we’re too busy with too many other things going on. I could give a lot of examples, but you’ve probably faced those situations too and already know what it feels like when you’re faced with a project that you just don’t want to do for one reason or another. Maybe the key point here is in having a valid reason why you don’t want to take the project on.

Fear, however, is not a valid reason. That’s what I’m learning now. Time after time I find that even when I’m reluctant to start a project because I’m fearful of failing, if I go ahead and give it a try, I surprise myself with what I’m able to accomplish. Maybe it’s a giraffe, a zebra, a guitar player, or a complex set of gears… in each of those instances I came away with a drawing that exceeded my expectations.

Today I’m sharing a little design. It’s one more project from the recently-endedΒ Sketchbook Revival 2021Β event. This was a video workshop taught by watercolor artist Sarah Simon. It involved watercolor. It required making dainty, delicate strokes. It meant being patient.

Yikes! I’m not good with watercolor, I don’t doΒ dainty, and patience? Well, I’m working on that one.

When I saw the project we’d be completing, I shook my head. Seriously? A wreath? All those carefully-drawn, carefully-painted little leaves? I had my doubts, but going against my long-held philosophical beliefs, I decided to do it anyway.

Just as Trupti Karjinni had done in an earlier session, Sarah Simon first gave us a lot of information on how to use watercolor. She showed us the various strokes we would be using, discussed water/paint ratios, and talked about always having scrap paper close by. In short, she did everything possible to ensure our success.

So, I followed along. My little wreath wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad. I even embellished mine a bit with little dots, and then I added that “sprig” inside the wreath. Maybe that was unnecessary, but it felt right to me.

Later, I had a little brainstorm. As I’d paid bills a few days ago, I realized that I was out of labels. I love making labels with clever little designs. I’d never made a set of labels using any of my own artwork, but as I looked at my little wreath, I saw the possibilities. I even realized that my little “sprig” fit perfectly!

I went online — I use Avery’s site for my labels — and I added an initial “K” for our last name. And look how lovely this design looks! I was also able to “pick up” color from the leaves to use for our name and address.

Talk about “personalized” mailing labels! So, yes, my art philosophy is going to be a bit different from my life philosophy. When it comes to drawing and painting, even if I’m in doubt about it, I’m probably going to do it anyway.


    1. Yep. I’ve learned that sometimes there are reasons not to do an art project — if I’m too busy, if I’m just not at all interested, if I don’t have the materials I need — but as I said in the post, I’ve learned too that “fear of failure” isn’t a valid reason. I might have my doubts about how the project will turn out, but usually I end up surprising myself with the results.

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