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Improve Your Artwork With A Double Dog Dare

by Keith Bond on 6/26/2009 2:36:10 PM

This Post is by Keith Bond, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews.  Find out how you can be a guest author.

If you are like me, you may sometimes avoid certain paintings (or whatever your art medium may be), because of a fear of failure.  There are certain ideas that I have that I am excited about.  I can visualize them in my mind.  I know how I want them to turn out.  Yet, for some reason I avoid beginning the painting.  I put it off because I am not sure how to paint the subject.  I feel that I may not yet have acquired the technical ability to do the painting how I want.  Yes, I am afraid of failing.  For me this happens equally in the studio as well as when painting plein air.  Fortunately it doesn't happen as often as it did earlier in my career, but it still occurs from time to time. 

I have learned, though, that when I step out of my comfort zone and attempt to paint something beyond myself, I learn the most.  While it is true that some of the paintings do fail, they were very valuable learning experiences.   

Some of the paintings don't fail, though.  They become gems.  In fact many of my favorite paintings are those that I didn't know "how" to paint.  I experimented, problem solved, relied on intuition, inspiration, faith, even luck, and dipped into my "basket of techniques" which I have acquired from all of my previous painting experiences.  By putting all of these components together, and tackling the problems that seem larger than myself, I can rise to new heights in my artistic development.   You can, too.  

Wayne Gretzky (the great hockey player) said, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."   

This great truth can be applied to every aspect of your life.  For your artistic goals, you cannot 'score' if you never take a shot at it.  The more shots you take, the more times you will score.  And, just like in hockey, the ratio of successful shots will increase.   You will have fewer and fewer misses the more you simply practice, practice, practice.  These successes will give you greater confidence which will carry you a long way down this obstacle-laden path we call art.   

So why don't you try that work of art that you want to do, but have put off for so long?  Try doing it this week.  Step out of your comfort zone.  Step out of that box that is holding you in.  Jump in front of that train!  Your artwork may fail.  But it may succeed.  Either way, though, you will have learned something and will be a better artist for it.  I challenge you to try it ? no, I dare you to try it!  I once read something from a very accomplished and successful artist who "dared himself" to do a painting.  Who can turn down a dare - especially a double-dog-dare?! (Editor's Note:  We may create a slight breach of etiquette here, but we suggest perhaps you consider challenging yourself with the sinister Triple-Dog-Dare).


Keith Bond 

PS  I will join you in taking the dare.  I will attempt painting something that I have put off for a while.  Let's return and report on our experiences; lessons learned, frustrations, failures, successes, moments of elation and inspiration.   Don't create the piece in hopes that it is your next masterpiece.  Simply do it out of the pure desire to create.  But keep your standards high.  Push yourself.  Have fun, and learn something.

Editor's Note - what about you?  What techniques do you use to push yourself to new level?  Let us know in the comments, we look forward to hearing from you.


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Topics: Art Business | Creativity and Inspiration | Inspiration | Productivity 

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Lori Woodward Simons
via web
OK then Keith! I'll try something tomorrow while painting on location in Putney. Because it's supposed to thunder in the afternoon, I'll push myself to use 3 colors (Ultramarine blue, Cadmium Yellow Pale, and Permanent Alizarin Crimson)

AND... to double dog dare myself, I'll use a palette knife.. and thick paint. Oh... this is downright scary. I really mean it. I'm a slow, obsessive type who avoids thick strokes.

AND to triple dog dare myself, I'll finish the painting in 30 minutes or less (it'll be on the smaller side).

Thanks for helping me to take risks and see what comes of it. Anyone else care to dare?

JT Harding
via web
Thanks for the dare Keith. I've recently taken a workshop on Color because I was reluctant to mix many of the colors on my palette. I also feared messing up areas of my paintings outside my comfort zone painting a yellow dress. The workshop starts with simple color relationships of just a few objects. Once I master these "color studies", I can apply the theories and tackle more complex subjects. I'll have some of these studies at my blog.

jennie Rosenbaum
via web
you're absolutely right Keith! I have a wealth of paintings in my brain stored away that I was absolutely itching to do but fell by the wayside. first there comes the inspiration, then the planning.. then the fear.. and inspiration starts to wane in the face of the task at hand. and I put it off and put it off until when I do finally attempt it I no longer feel it enough to do a proper job anyway - a self fulfilling prophecy. well, I take your double dog dare! and your triple dog dare and I am going to attempt two of the paintings I've been putting off in the coming week!

Pia f. Walker
via web
Love it! I was wondering if we would breach "daring etiquette" and slip to the triple-double-dog dare you!
I've been going through this very same FEAR (and trying to write, and draw my way out of it) this last week. I never thought I would have to be afraid of art (jumping off a cliff, maybe, but putting paint on a canvas? come on!) and yet here I am.
My triple double dog dare is to actually start on my first series of drawings - combining painting, which I've never really tried or mastered - with pastels. It will all be intuitive but I'm looking forward to the mess - and the beauty (both physically and spiritually)- that I'll find by simply going through the process of putting one foot in front of the other.
Thank you for the dare, Keith!

Oscar Ortiz
via web
This is great. I've always loved realism a la illustration Golden Era. I've currently stopped painting and went back into real drawing. Soon I'll tackle that monster: painting the ideas I've had in mind for the longest time in a realistic way. Thanks for the challenge!

via web
Hi Keith,
Ok, so I have had the front page of a Latino newspaper hanging on my note board for quite a while now. In fact, I just went and looked---it's dated April 17th, 2007. It shows two female soccer players, and they have been staring me down for (holy buckets!)----2 years and 2 months. It's their attitude. It's magnificiant, and I've got to get it right. Dios Mio, is this the week I've got to do it? Ha! Thanks for the nudge.

Later, Cooper

Ruth Housley
via web
Hi Keith,
This is another great article that you wrote. Keep writing those interesting articles.
Happy Painting.

Emily Stevenson
What an encouraging post! I too struggle with fear and often don't create because of it. I'm going home and painting tonight. :)

Dickson Brown
Hi Keith,

Yes I'm guilty of putting paintings off, however I am painfully aware that I'm doing it, and these unpainted paintings nag away at me.

In part, I find it helps to keep revisiting my sketches, reworking the proportions, the angles, and the composition ...until I start to believe.

In this way, avoiding a painting gives the piece time to mature in my mind [and in sketch form]. I realise that this might not work for everyone, but that's how I approach this issue.

How did your triple-dog-dare painting turn out?

Susan Ziots
via with facebook
Ahh, I am smilling.
I just started an affrican violet that I have admired for the past few years but didn't start because its outside my comfort zone. Big challenge. I have never done one before. I don't know why I have put it off.
Thankyou for bringing it to my attention.

I learned something interesting in 2004 when I was teaching three art classes a week.
I would sugjest a project in the childrens class and they would dive right in and joyfully do their best. No big rush to master it, just Learn form it.

DIFFERENT STORY in the adults classes.
There were alot of him-hawings and declarations like "oh My, I cant paint like that" I showed them what the youth were working on and some of the adults took the plunge and enjoyed the challenge. A few sat back and painted what they were used to and had already developed some skills in.
I am still intrigued about that.



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