Want to Learn…Make More Mistakes


I have been making gel printed cards and this is what the work space looked like when I broke for dinner. My hands were flecked with different ink colors and the table was in some state of in progress. This is the first step in the process, cover the cards with ink. The second step is to calligraphy the front message, and finally we package them up and sell them individually or in sets.

I have learned how to use different tools from different media to create the textures. The three rollers in the back are to add texture to fondant, but I use them to add texture to ink. The blue pieces you see to the right are for adding texture to clay; simply press and the indentations change everything. We keep our eyes open for different tools to add texture, no matter what it was designed to do originally. It we can put ink on it or use it to make an impression it ends up in our tools set. I learned by making mistakes, messes and ruining lots of paper. One of my favorite ‘stamps’ is the styrofoam packaging from a meat tray that has holes in it. We glued it to a wooden block and now it is a stamp I use all the time. We call it Laurel’s Meat Tray stamp because our friend Laurel taught us how to do all this AND think differently.

When you learn a new thing you are working to master the rules. You need to train your brain to think differently. First you need to understand the basic techniques, process, guidelines, or parameters of the thing you are learning. Be it software or an art form the goal is to understand the basics and spend time mastering them. Build knowledge and muscle memory so that you can execute without having to think about the rules. Once you master the rules and understand why the rules are in place, then you can break them.

The challenge is most people don’t want to learn the rules. It takes time to learn the rules and we have grown impatient. People want to dive right in without understanding and create, then they are troubled when it doesn’t work out like it should. It is hard to do anything of value without knowledge and understanding, experience and wisdom. It takes tries and error, correction, practice and more practice to get good at anything. The more you do it the better you will become. And the more mistakes you make the more you learn.

The best lessons in life are the ones we learn for ourselves, usually from making mistakes. If the mistake is big enough you will never forget it. If the mistake is costly or embarrassing it is a stepping off point for your next adventure. In a world that seeks perfection ask anyone who produces excellence and they will tell you that they learned the basics and made lots of mistakes. So if you want to learn fast, make more mistakes. Work long, work hard, and make big whopping, huge errors then learn and move forward. The most mistakes you make the better you will become. You may use up a lot of paper and ink but the end result will be worth it all.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you, Ann. I appreciated the original photography and the tutorial. I would have liked to see a picture of your hands too. Hands of an artist.


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