Thursday, November 12, 2015

Failing better

I recently got an email that ended with the line "Happiness is a journey, not a destination". It's a poetic call to enjoy the ride instead of focussing on the destination. When you apply this assertion to painting you could say "It's the process that counts, not the result". Not very poetic, eh?

Apart from that, do I agree? Sure, I like the whole trial-and error thing, the process of expirimenting and learning, of hope and frustration. If you hate that, you're probably better off in a different occupation. But to be honest, without an occasional result I would have given up long ago. Nothing beats the excitement of the feeling that you're on the right way and the satisfaction when you made something worth while. The process is no fun at all without the result. The promise of a result lights up the process. Poetic, eh?

Maybe you heard of Stan Wawrinka, the Swiss tennis player who always came in second. Only recently he started winning titles. On his arm he has a tattoo with a line from a Samuel Becket poem: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." My kind of guy.

The painting on the right side was made in a period of four years, starting in 2008. The size is 90 x 90 cm, oil on canvas. I was never really satisfied with the result and I kept changing it. For you to judge if I failed better...


  1. Dear Master Dolsma, I do agree with you, all parts of painting process are important and we can learn alot even in failures. Regarding the painting you shared, all of those three moments captured are beautiful. But I completely understand you, sometimes it seems we will never be satisfied, one more brushstroke that never ends. Best Regards,

  2. Dear Mr. Santiago, thank you for your kind comment. Looking back I am not even sure if the last version is the best. Like you say: sometimes it seems we will never be satisfied...