Embrace Failure!

Jun 28, 2019Creative process

“We can’t stop now. I thought I’d stop when it was going well. But now it’s going very badly. It’s too late. We can’t stop now.”

Those words come straight from “A Giacometti Portrait”. James Lord sat for eighteen days while his friend Alberto Giacometti did his portrait. The artist painted, and the model recorded the sittings. Later he wrote this book.

I opened it on page nine after a terrible drawing session.

It was Friday. I had started a very large drawing. As Alberto would have said “It was beginning to look like something, only now”.

I went to bed relaxed and hopeful.

The following day, I was eager to go back to my easel. I was very joyful. Happy-go-lucky!

After I had started to work, I wasn’t sure anymore. The more I was working, the worst it was getting.

Then I reminded the book and found this exchange between Alberto Giacometti (A.G.) and James Lord (J.L.)

A.G. “It’s impossible. I don’t know how to do anything. I’ll tell you what: I’m going to work on this picture for another day or two, and then if it doesn’t turn out to be any good I’ll give up painting forever.” […] “It’s going badly, but that doesn’t matter, since there’s no question of finishing it anyway.” […] ”Anyway this is what I deserve for thirty-five years of dishonesty.”

J.L. “What do you mean?” I asked. 

A.G. “Simply that all these years I’ve exhibited things that weren’t finished and never even should have been started, But on the other hand, if I hadn’t exhbited at all, it would have seemed cowardly, as though I didn’t dare to show what I’d done, which was not true. So I was caught between the frying pan and the fire.”

It reminded me that moment in Lapland last winter when we were getting ready for a dog sledding day.

We were in Karasjok, all the way up North of Norway.

Our guide said: “Okay. You need to learn how to fall, and more importantly how to get back on. Because you WILL fall.”

She seemed so certain that we would fall that after a few minutes I realised I had to accept it. There was no way around…

So I fell flat on my face in the snow. And the funniest part was to get my sled up and ready to go.

Because dogs understand Stop and Go, like Black and White. As soon as they were sensing my sled moving, the pack was ready to go full speed. But I wasn’t ready at all. So I ended up sledding on my stomach. I became a sled :)! I didn’t even know I had so many muscles in my arms.

We all know: there are no fairies without devils…

Like drawing, it’s impossible but…boy it feels so good!!!!!!

Watch Giacometti paint: Below is a 2.45 mn video of Alberto in his studio. Fascinating!

I highly recommend this book even if you don’t paint and draw! You can find A Giacometti Portrait by James Lord on bookdepository.com

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