We don't look at the investment of material, time, and effort in our successes and say "Wow - what a waste! I should have spent the money on something else. I should have done this that or the other thing." We warmly welcome this success and feel satisfied in the accomplishment. Often, if we are really lucky, we feel motivated to do it all again and hopefully kick it up a notch!
Mistakes, on the other hand, don't get the same warm embrace.
Mistakes get the stink eye.
But, I know a secret: The best teacher we could ever employ is a mistake.
The only way we will ever know what a certain color or movement or medium will do is if we use it. We can learn a lot from taking classes, watching tutorials, reading books, and talking to other artists. These things are invaluable to us on our quest to create, but the only way we can really create something new is by trying something we have never done before. This takes risk and courage and, yes, trial and error. Lots of error.
Nothing is wasted, my friends, even if we wash it off, paint over it, or throw it away.
The tree you see above was painted with alcohol ink on ceramic tile, and probably more than half of the materials I used to paint it are laying in the trash can, soaked into paper towels used to wipe the first effort clean. The trunk was "off" at first, and the more I worked it, the wider it became as the ink did its thing and flowed a bit beyond my control. I knew no tree that wide could ever be that short, and it made me laugh out loud, but I kept going. The leaf covered grass was not to my liking - it appeared very juvenile and out of perspective. Nothing fit. But I kept playing and working the ink. At the end of the day I poured alcohol on the whole thing and wiped it all away, tossing the paper towels into the trash. The next morning I awoke to a fresh new tile and a lot of information gathered from the day before. All of what I learned went into this tree, and everything I learned from this tree will go into my next tree, and so on and so on.
Nothing is wasted unless we refuse to risk and play. In that case, our artistic potential never sprouts wings and flies.
What do you want to create?
Go ahead. What have you got to lose but the promise of what might have been? Be brave.