≡ Menu

Next post:

Previous post:

Embracing Failure

The mailman brought me a box of happiness this week- new stencils from Julie Balzer and Crafter’s Workshop!  I have been using the stencils on tags, canvases, fabric, my kids even learned not to be too still near me or I would stencil them!  No problem keeping up with Creative Everyday this week!

I was making this tag and wanted a phrase to add to it. I seem to want text in some form or another on everything I make lately.  “Welcome opportunity” came to mind.  Almost right, but it needed a bit more.  “Welcome all the opportunities that come your way”, now that matched what I was feeling.

Making art is very cathartic for me, even when I don’t expect it.  I was typing the words, cutting the words, wishing I had the fingers of  a 5 year old to pick up the little things when it struck me.  Failing is an opportunity.  I failed at all sorts of things while making this tag AND learned lots.  That’s why I added “including the opportunity to fail”.    I think I am a better artist because of my failures, not my successes.  I am not a neurosurgeon- they don’t have the room to fail the way I do.  Today, I am embracing my failures.

1.  Failure: The green against the orange did not turn out well.  The green was too translucent a paint so it was more subtle than I wanted. Learned: That I need to check the paint when I am working with lighter colors so I know what kind of coverage/look it will provide.  Also learned that subtle can be good, in the end I preferred what I created to what I had intended to make.








2.  Failure: The punched flower spray inked yellow was too close to the orange.  Learned:  Edge it in pen to make it stand out more.








3.  Failure:  Put rows of glitter on the yellow flower to give it some pizazz – which it did not. It just looked strange there.  Learned:  Smear the glitter glue while wet and it fills into the edges and creates a more subtle look.  Much better.








4.  Failure:  Put a little on the blue stitched flower and it looked out of place and awkward.   Learned:  A little glitter is awkward but more is better.  Added more lines of glitter around the edges and it felt like it belonged.

5.  Failure:  Fingers dropping little typed words and getting really stuck to the glue on my fingers.  Learned:  Grab the tweezers and then the glue doesn’t get all over my fingers.








{ 21 comments… add one }

Leave a Comment

  • AJ February 20, 2012, 1:58 am

    Hi Carolyn, I’ve been AWOL for a few days and have just caught up with your recent posts, it’s always a joy to see your work and your processes. It’s funny but I don’t see the failures that you see, but it’s fantastic that we learn from ourselves and from each other. Love your tag and the quote.
    Big love

  • Nigel February 20, 2012, 8:46 am

    Those who never fail, never learn.

    Love the tag, brilliant vibrant colour combo 🙂


  • Carol Apple February 20, 2012, 9:26 am

    I had some art failures this week too. (Although yours is still neat!) But it’s the only way we learn to get better. In fact, I need to get braver about risking failure by trying some new mediums. Thanks for a delightful reminder!

  • Ginny February 20, 2012, 10:25 am

    I have lots and lots of failures Carolyn but like you I feel they are all opportunities to learn. Thank you for sharing all that you learned this week. The finished product is great but sharing the process was so inspiring. Thank you again.

  • Cynthia February 20, 2012, 10:54 am

    “A little glitter is awkward but more is better.” OK, I totally love that!! Beautiful tag–the colors are wonderful and the stencil is awesome!!

  • Karon Tripp February 20, 2012, 11:06 am

    I LOVED this post! It is all about process and thank you for sharing yours. Thank you also for visiting my site and for your kind words. It’s funny how we both wrote of our struggles this week. Congratulations. Your tag doesn’t look like you had any trouble at all. It looks like it just came into being just as it should be.

  • Maria February 20, 2012, 11:42 am

    The layers in this are really fantastic Carolyn! Your choice of blue for the poppy is what makes it all POP! I love the subtle stencil in the background. It makes the layers have depth. I think how you kept adding to the quote is perfect. I got my fair share of these stencils delivered last week too…thank for inspiring me to play….the kids are home today, better watch out!

  • Gwen February 20, 2012, 12:50 pm

    I love failures, they are definitely opportunities. My art is one failing after another but I don’t care. Your piece here is wonderful. The failures are just when things don’t turn ut as we expect…..so my motto is …don’t have any expectation and just love what happens, a bit like you did here. Bravo!!!!

  • Pauline Leger February 20, 2012, 2:21 pm

    This is great! LOVE LOVE the quote and the simplicity of the visual.
    … and yes, the glitter. 🙂

  • molly February 20, 2012, 3:30 pm

    i love how you incorporate words into your art. and what a great sentiment. the bold blue offsets the yellow/gold background beautifully!

  • Sandy Coleman February 20, 2012, 3:47 pm

    Oh, how I love this beautiful reminder that sometimes failure holds the greatest lessons. Thanks so much for sharing this very colorful piece and the great words.

  • Rita McGregor February 21, 2012, 4:00 am

    I think it was Edison who said, “I have not failed. I just found 1000 ways that won’t work.” So, you’re smarter than Edison because you made them work anyways–LOL! 😉

  • Bleubeard and Elizabeth February 21, 2012, 9:59 am

    I have always believed in embracing failure. However, I think you recovered SO much better than I do at times. This tag speaks to me and is a total success. I love it, as well as the green in the background.

  • Valerie-Jael February 21, 2012, 10:56 am

    Wonderful, sunny tag, and mistakes are always a great opportunity to learn! Valerie

  • Currie Silver February 21, 2012, 4:27 pm

    This is a treasure!! I was writing my Manifesto last week and one of my favourite lines in it was:
    Fail With Enthusiasm. Learn.
    So nice to see it coming back through your tag and the accompanying BEhind the scenes.
    I’m teaching this week, 4th-5th graders Wednesday morning, and Kindergarteners on Thursday. It was such fun to re-tool my collage activity to meet them and in the process I came to see some of the things I love most about teaching. Making art has such a broad capacity to bring LIFE to Life!!

  • Kelly February 21, 2012, 6:53 pm

    I love this! I certainly see no failure…..missteps are all part of the process. I had to grin about the little words sticking.

  • Julie February 23, 2012, 6:10 pm

    This is great! And I really love making happy mistakes and accidents in art. 🙂

  • one canvas one soul February 23, 2012, 9:53 pm

    The tag is beautiful. I agree with your philosophy, we learn much from our failures. I have yet to try it but Elmer’s glue makes this spray on type glue. I haven’t tried it but the idea of avoiding sticky figures while applying glue makes me want to give it a try. You have a choice to make it permanent or not; I think it has to do with how long you wait before adhering the pieces together. You can get it at target or meijer too. Maybe that’ll be worth exploring!?

  • Create With Joy February 26, 2012, 8:20 pm


    Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful post and piece of art with us this week at Inspire Me Monday! You are going to be one of my featured artists this week at Inspire Me Monday Week 8. Thanks for your support & I look forward to seeing what you share with us this week!


    • Carolyn February 26, 2012, 10:45 pm

      So glad you liked it! Thrilled to be a part of Inspire Me Monday!

  • peggy aplSEEDS February 27, 2012, 6:50 pm

    great post, and so true! wonderful tag to illustrate your point! thank you for sharing,
    hugs, peggy aplSEEDS