June 2024
« May    

April 5, 2011

Doug and his Lovely Hats: A post concerning failure, progress, and the importance of leaving your comforts behind.

Filed under: Uncategorized — tb @ 9:14 pm

You may remember a post from a few weeks back where I announced a “paint tiny” excericise, in which I forced myself to paint no larger than 5×7 in an effort to try and improve my indication skills and up my dexterity.  That excercise has reached it’s end.  On the final day of the portrait painting course, I went and increased my canvas size to 9×12; I wanted to apply the lessons learned from those tiny paintings to a more traditionally-sized portrait.  Here is the result:



   I’m pretty happy with this painting.  I feel I’ve learned quite a bit in the past few months.  By leaving my comfort zone and knocking out a few *horrendous* tiny paintings, I managed to break through a stagnant cloud and push myself.  The lesson learned was to embrace my failures…I remember hearing Greg Manchess say that once, but I didn’t quite realize what he meant until I completed this exercise.  Without embracing those failures, those awful, exceedingly uncomfortable attempts at painting,  I wouldn’t of been able to push through to the next level.  For that I thank you, demons of failure.

  I want to add that the model in the portrait is Doug, a long-time portrait model at Watts Atelier.  Doug’s been a constant at Watts since..well..I think since the school started some 20-years ago (Erik, Lucas or Jeff, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.)  As such, I’ve been painting and drawing Doug since I set foot in the Atelier several years back.  After completing the above-portrait, I went ahead and dug through my archives of shame, and turned up several old portraits I’ve done of Doug.  Sticking with the theme of embracing failure,  I’m going to air my shame; Here’s a little chronological timeline of my history painting Doug.



    From painting glue-on beards and trying to avoid eyes, to struggling and failing at applying the concept of tiling, and finally ending at the most recent portrait (Which I feel is most-certainly a success), it’s become evident to me that the only way to get better, to get to those successes, is to fail…Miserably, if possible.  You need to step outside of your comfortably stagnant box, and grasp blindly in that muck of self-doubt in order to finally find Progress in those murky, Defeat-ladden waters.


Edit: Because I myself am a sucker for seeing paint strokes and the process involved in a painting, here’s a hi-res version of the portrait (click the link title)  for those that want to get a closer look.



• • •


  1. I’ve noticed as you get better Doug faces closer towards you. It’s always cool to see progressions like this. Great post all together, the sooner you make a mistake the sooner you can learn from it!

    Comment by Nick R — April 11, 2011 @ 10:37 pm
  2. Absolutely gorgeous painting Tom! That hires is money too, really stellar brushwork. Looking forward to seeing how your hard knocks translate into your illustration.

    Comment by Rob S — May 4, 2011 @ 2:22 am
  3. Thanks Rob! I’m working on a pretty ambitious (for me, at least) illustration right now; Stay tuned, It’ll be up here in the next few weeks.

    Comment by tb — May 4, 2011 @ 7:47 pm

Comments RSSTrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Cogs on lease from WordPress |•| CSSery via priss