Humility and a Bonfire

“Art, because it’s so easy to do, yet so difficult to do well, encourages humility in the human soul. “Robert Genn.~

“I am reaching for the unknown in a deep dark vastness, unable to see, grasping at thin air”.

However obscure, my dear Artist friend Julia Hargreaves knew exactly what I was talking about. Lately paintings are gathering in the trash bin during my quest for improvement & discovery.

Ironically, a lovely crowd swarmed my studio two weeks ago whispering comments of how wonderful it would be to have natural talent like this. My mind drifted to the stack of art wreckage hidden beneath the stairs.

General belief is artists struggle with failure until they reach their creative holy grail, then sail smoothly in the sea of success, mastery now held tight within their clasp.

One might as easily grasp the wind.

Within this myth we underestimate the value of failure in process, and it’s continuum in art.

Edison succeeded inventing the light bulb after 10,000 trials. In some ways, originality in art requires invention of a new kind of light bulb every day. Failure is part of the process, even for the masters.

The Water Lily series are among the greatest accomplishments in art history. Created late in his highly successful career, Monet was a veteran master. Yet, during the decade of creation, he destroyed 300 water lily paintings in the process.

Artists recognize failing isn’t a character flaw.

Dwelling on failure as a personal deficiency only prohibits problem solving. Pride stalls growth.

This doesn’t mean artists are happy about failing. Monet stomped his clogged feet thru canvas’s that didn’t make the cut.

Understanding mistakes will arise in the lifelong journey enables true creative risk. You pull up your sleeves and dig in, because art is hard work, riddled with uncontrollable variables.

Acceptance of our humanness, and not mediocre work, allows creative maturity to develop amid the valleys.

We all face a version of the deep abyss during worthy pursuits.

Failure is a cog in the wheel of progress. Trading pride for humility illuminates possibility.

Venture on, friends. Venture on.


“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Thomas Edison

“I tell myself that anyone who says he has finished a canvas is terribly arrogant. Finished means complete, perfect, and I toil away without making any progress, searching, fumbling around, without achieving anything much.” Claude Monet (1893); as quoted in: David W. Galenson (2009), Painting outside the Lines.

P.S. Artists may prefer cathartic release with fire. Michelangelo incinerated working sketches in a barrel outside his studio door. Robert Genn culled work late in life with a backyard bonfire.


Canoe 3 ~ 6 x8in oil  $ 360.00

Shore ~  8 x10 in oil on board eraser painting $ 455.00

Forest Light  ~ 18×24 in oil on canvas $  1100.00

Sunlight- Sold ~ happy client above.