Maybe you’ve seen this incredible video of a woman making calla lily images using an inked string. It’s amazing. Looks easy. She does it perfectly time after time. She then moves on to decorating jeans.
How hard could it be to do that? It’s mostly pulling string. Ahhh, that’s the problem. Is she using ink or paint? How thin is the ink or paint? Do you have to have a weight on the cover of the pad of paper?
Without having any answers, I cut a piece of cooking twine and soaked it in thinned walnut ink. The ink was too wet. (That’s the brown attempt on the left.) The next try was still too wet. That’s the blur on the right. But it is heading in the right direction.
When you have a lot of questions and not a lot of answers, you experiment. When you experiment, you generally fail in the early attempts. If you quit then, you will also quit learning. Every time we make a mistake, fail, don’t get it right, we can change something to get better, to work toward getting it right. That’s what success is–trying often enough to finally get it right.
Doing it again (also called practice) gives us a lot of information. We can change our technique. The second time, I chose a thicker ink and dragged the string more slowly.
Trying again gave a better result. It didn’t look as wonderful as the one in the video, but she has probably done hundreds of them.
On the next one, I used a thinner paper. Watercolor paper absorbs paint and water quickly, creating the streaks. This try was with watercolor.
Getting better. Now I was tempted to make two changes. Better to do one change at a time. If it works well (or if it doesn’t), you’ll know exactly what change didn’t work.
The joy of doing it again is that you can see yourself getting better. Whether it’s an art technique, writing, sports, dancing or singing, practice does make perfect. Or at least closer to perfect.
—Quinn McDonald values the learning that lies in failure, experimentation, and repetition.