Find the differences #4: making mistakes

I already knew I didn’t share the same opinion on mistakes with most other people, but only recently I saw it as a sincere misunderstanding.

My upbringing made me hate mistakes. It made me see mistakes as the result of sloppiness, lack of concentration, lack of accurate preparation. It was not imaginable that mistakes can happen despite the best planning: it was always the sign for improving something. I started to fight mistakes with the goal of eliminating them all – I didn’t know it was an impossible feat, but it looked good, because I was always trying to improve!

Sometimes other people would tell me: “Don’t be such a perfectionist! You are allowed to make mistakes!”, but my mind couldn’t understand it properly. There was this translation in my head:

  1. You should be OK with making mistakes from time to time! , which became:
  2. You should be OK with being careless from time to time!

This misunderstanding would not happen with these more articulate explanations:

  1. There are different kind of mistakes and some can be prevented with better preparation, others depend on variables you can’t control (the weather, the audience’s mood, the company’s financial stability…), so your careful preparation could not lead to the best outcome. Afterwards, you can search for the source of the failure: it it’s something you could reasonably prevent, work on that; if not, you comfort yourself with the fact that you did your best.
  2. Even if you can prevent all mistakes (false, but let’s pretend), you should do like all other people who are not perfectionists and let mistakes happen by paying less attention than needed. Try less hard. Make mistakes you could avoid, on purpose. Let others rejoice, because you too look human.

The second explanation appears now to me in all its monstruosity, judgemental arrogance and dangerous implications. I am finally able to accept mistakes that depend on external circumstances, and I am able to accept the mistakes that come from over-working myself to exhaustion – accept them, and see them as warning signs.

Now  I can understand Bob Ross and his happy little accidents 🙂


And by the way, happy artsy activities everyone!


Watercolour: negative painting

Yesterday I came across this post from Sunnyfae about negative painting, a (watercolour) technique that requires to paint all around a given shape, therefore leaving the lightest areas of the canvas free. Here is one of her drawings:

I absolutely love the technique, so I looked up for Linda Kemp, the artist she mentions in her post. I found several videos on YouTube, and this one sounded great for my beginning with this new technique. Linda explains how to approach the painting in a mid-way between completely free and completely planned – by deciding the subject, colours and overall shapes before starting. The painting process will then be focused, while remaining free on local decisions (brush strokes and colour density). I like that approach and it suits me in this moment. You can browse other videos and find the one that speaks to you and invites you to try painting!

Thank you Sunnyfae for your inspiration, and do keep us posted with your progress and discoveries 🙂

Film recommendation: “Paris, Texas”

Two days ago I watched this film at the cinema. A friend told me that it is widely available online, but I preferred to go to the cinema, for its setting and rituals: comfortable seats, great audio and video, planned timing and breaks. It is a situation where I have to decide very little and I can concentrate fully on the film.


I have been enchanted by the colours, all along the film. Camera angles were a treat in practically every scene (I thought that the film could be stopped almost anytime and printed out on a large canvas, with wonderful results). But maybe I enjoyed the careful, slow unwinding of the characters’ stories even more than everything else. It seemed to me that some moments were not acted at all, they seemed so alive and real. I enjoyed the sensation of having enough time to understand what the characters thought, what they felt, instead of having to pick clues or devices put in place to signify an emotion, but in a way that saves film-time. I felt there was no plot, no planned outcome, and this made me feel relaxed – otherwise, when I know that the plot has to follow certain steps, I end up fixing my attention to it, afraid of missing a clue, but missing a whole bunch of other information.

It was great to watch the movie together with many other people. We chuckled, paid close attention, smiled, laughed and sighed together. It was precious to hear the buzz of conversations started right out of the doors, people flowing out in pairs or small groups, all starting a discussion about some particular scene or their impressions. There were people who didn’t like the film, and it didn’t bother me, even if I loved it a lot. There are many factors that need to be there to make you enjoy an artistic creation like a movie, not all under our control; maybe they were tired or worried about something and could not focus; maybe they didn’t like the story. Some films and books clicked for me only when I saw them again much later, with a different mindset.

For this movie, I liked the large space that the creators reserved to the spectator, to be filled with personal interpretations and empathy. There are very little hints of the opinion of the creators on the complex net of relationships among the characters, and their lives’ difficult turns. I felt that they offered that story to me, as it was, without trying to make sense of it themselves.

I’m curious to see more movies like this, and I am open to suggestions! Let me know in the comments.

Watercolour experiments

Today I wanted to test some exercises suggested by “The magic of drawing”, and I’m quite happy of the result:


The process was free, the shapes came out from a first random brush stroke, that suggested the subject of the small painting; a linear stroke invited more linear strokes to represent tall grass or slender trees, while curved strokes reminded me of oak trees, like the green one.

My first steps of watercolour are about learning to control the brush, so they are not anything close to reality; nevertheless, I had much fun just practising these basics.They reminded me the free canvas use by children, who are additionally learning to control their hand. It was for me a happy jump in the past, in the times where I could draw and paint without thinking about the time or the use of paper.

I hope this encourages you to try too: you only need paper (any kind is OK for the start, it only has to be a bit thick, otherwise it bends with water) and a watercolour set! Hint: shopping for these supplies is a feast on its own 🙂

Landscapeito: first attempt

Today I watched John Muir Law’s lesson about drawing 5-minute landscapes and got inspired to draw one myself. I went to the park near my house and picked a corner with a couple of trees. The sun started to shine nicely right as I started drawing, so that it made better shadows. I took longer than five minutes, but not more than fifteen. Here is the result:


I am quite happy with the result! The subject in itself is not so exciting, the drawing is far from pretty, but I am proud of having been able to watch the video, grab my sketchbook and pencil, go outside, find a subject to draw, and actually draw it. I could have stopped anywhere in the process – I could have thought: yeah it’s late for today, there is not much light, there are no nice landscapes around my house, this sketch is not looking that good, I’m not going to finish it… instead, here it is!

I hope this inspires you to do the same, find a small art task like these 5-minutes landscapes, complete it and feel proud of your achievement. Any journey starts with a small step!