Something I encourage my students to do is experiment using materials to find new ways to make art - most of my students don't want to experiment in this way because they fear they'll fail and this stops them from discovery which I find quite sad as they're missing out.
To be afraid of failure is to be stuck in the past.
I think that any beginner to the arts, who is hoping to find success in their work can do very well if they first try alternative ways of using different materials just to see what happens. Yes failures are inevitable but why see these failures as the end result? Why not see them as a stepping stone to something more interesting and even if that next stepping stone wasn't the success you were looking for then why should that stop you from pushing further to see what happens next?
I think that the society we live in is an "instant result" sort of society where we watch a speed video of someone doing something that they've probably perfected after multiple false starts and when they achieve success, we assume we can also find the same quick success in a few minutes of trying......so when it fails to result in success, often times we give up and move on. How disappointing this method is!
First of all, life isn't a speed video!
When you begin to learn anything, you will need to be ready for not being brilliant in the first few minutes - if you can make your mind open to failures as leading to successes then you're halfway there!
So today, I'm sharing with you one of my recent experiments in paper marbling! I've had years of practice making marbled paper using all sorts of materials but in this experiment, I was using materials found around the house because I like to offer easy options to the members of my meetup group, London Art Museum Creatives as I believe everyone should have access to fun easy crafts and especially while stuck indoors during this pandemic year!
I'm offering a paper marbling event to my members in the next few weeks and like everything I teach, I like to experiment to see if I can use anything I find in the house (to make it affordable and easy for my members) and so that when I present my techniques to my members, they're able to achieve more successes thanks to my failures/experiments which will give them a boost of confidence to keep creating even after my event which is one of the many reasons I like to teach art.
So I started out collecting old markers and taking out the ink filters in the plastic tubes and soaking them in water to see how much ink I could extract - in doing this, I noted with some satisfaction that the ink that did seep out was floating on the surface of the water but was barely enough to successfully create a marbled result so that idea was scrapped right in the beginning.
Following this, I then mixed my cheap acrylic paint (from the Flying Tiger shop) into water and dropped it into a tray of water.....some of it did stay on the surface of the water but it still sunk to the bottom before I could properly coat it to paper.
So I abandoned the water with pigment idea.....however...
I did very much enjoy the meditative calming quality when swirling the pigments in the water so if you are in need of an arty meditation then this may be a good option for you!
This "failure" was only a failure in that I couldn't get the pigment to stick on the paper but you could say that it was a "success" for meditation which is what I'm talking about when allowing yourself to experiment in the arts. You never know where your experiments may take you!
The iridescent quality, by the way, is from using a dollop of Golden Artistic Colors Iridescent Silver paint which was an unexpectedly magical addition to the meditative swirls!
So from here, I thought again of what my members may easily find in their homes and came up with the shaving foam method for paper marbling which was very enjoyable! I used "Satin Care Shave Gel" and mixed it up with my fingers, though I think it would have been better mixing with a spoon as it was quite messy!
One thing I learned in this process is that probably it would be better to smooth out the top surface with a flat spoon so that there are less lumps as I do think now that this lumpy terrain did impact my marbled results.
Dropping the pigment in was so much fun and then taking a stick and running it through the droplets was even more satisfying. It's less stressful too as the water version meant that I had to act rather fast between dropping pigment in to then quickly laying the paper down to get an image. This technique is much more relaxed. You can take your time and really create something beautiful in the foam.
I did cut up a few sheets of paper to sizes I wanted beforehand so that I was ready to go which I think makes it an even more enjoyable experience. Being prepared when experimenting or when just creating really helps the process flow without too many interruptions.
Once you're satisfied with the pigments, then this is the fun part of course...placing in the paper and gently pushing into the foam so you coat the whole surface of the paper and then slowly peeling up to see your results!
This is where there's a hidden treasure, because when you peel up the paper, you're left with what looks like a coloured foamy mess on your paper but when you rinse your foam covered paper in water, all the beauty is revealed!
My results after rinsing off the foam came out very well and I would say after the many "failures" trying different methods, this one was the most satisfying and one that I felt I could offer to my members so they will be able to have that "instant success"!
When my members try out my successful techniques for themselves, they'll have immediate beautiful results in a few minutes.......whereas I spent about two hours in my studio coming up with these methods.
I have other creative projects that are ongoing in my studio where I'm still working out the best technique or best method and I encounter multiple creative "failures" and "successes" daily in my professional art career. I embrace both the failures and the successes as essential stepping stones to the goals I want to achieve as an artist.
So if you are just starting out in your creative career as an artist, then I encourage you to experiment and take delight in your failures and your successes and don't give up because with each experiment, you are one step closer to your goal and that has to be a good thing, don't you think?
If you are interested in joining my meetup group to attend upcoming events then please click this link to be taken to my group, London Art Museum Creatives. (You don't have to be in London to participate!)
If you are interested in private art lessons on topics like paper marbling or anything else for that matter, then please feel free to send me an email to let me know what you want to learn, your goals and what you've done in the past: email@example.com
If you think your office team would benefit from a corporate art workshop like paper marbling or any other creative subject, then I'd encourage you to get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org