I was a band geek.
Well first, I was an orchestra geek - I played the violin. That was somewhat short lived due to the orchestra teacher underestimating the amount of pushback he'd get from a stubborn little Irish girl when he told me I'd have to choose between orchestra and band (even though the schedules didn't conflict), because there was "no way" I could be good at both.
No way? Was there really no way? (Insert hairflip here)
So I chose band. Because people are not allowed to tell me what I can't do. :)
And boy, did I love band.
There was a team spirit in band that I don't really know if I've found to the same degree everywhere else, because every single person in the band would do anything to make that music sound great. There was no way any of us could be great without all of us being great, and so we cheered each other on, and helped each other where and when we could. Despite the innate competition (who was first chair, etc.), when it was time to play, everyone mattered. And we no more wanted anyone with a solo to make a mistake than we would have wanted a meteor to crash into the stadium during one of our performances.
Music is pretty unique in the arts that way.
And band required SO much practice. I'd say we practiced 98% of the time and only performed 2% of the time.
And what I remember about my practices by myself - really - was failure. I'd start, I'd screw up, and I'd start over. For hours, and hours and hours.
Alllll that failure made me good at what I did. It made it so that during those 2% performances, I got it right. (Most of the time.) And when I didn't, at least I had a lot of people who cringed with me.
This is why practice comes naturally to me in art. But for a lot of people, it's a foreign concept. Papercrafters - who are by and large perfectionists - often want to recreate something they see immediately - in one take.
But that's not how some things work. Watercolor is a great example. I spend hours and hours and hours practicing watercolor - stamping ten of the same image and coloring each one - learning what colors and methods work and what don't. I don't have the patience to read instructions, but for some reason, I have the patience to do this. Part of it is that I'm happier when I'm learning something than when I know something. Doing something I already know how to do is not nearly as much fun as trying to master something new.
So all that to say - if something doesn't work the first time you do it, try it 10, 20, 30 more times and keep your first attempts to compare. I think you'll find you evolve quite a bit.
Today's MIX-ability mixed media challenge on Splitcoast is really fun. The challenge is to smash some plants in your die cutting machine. MariLynn's samples were beautiful - she used wildflowers - and I panicked at first because it's that time of year in Texas when everything flowering is dead. Actually everything not flowering is dead too.
So I went into the backyard with little hope - but I found a few blooms left on what I call my butterfly bush - I'm not sure what it really is, but it has pretty purple flowers on it that attract a lot of butterflies. I snagged three of them and smashed them according to her instructions - sandwich them between two pieces of cardstock and then run through on whatever sandwich you'd use for Framelits. If you have less bulky plants than these you might need to shim.
What was cool was that I was using Whisper White cardstock - which is a coated cardstock - so it actually has a little bit of clay on the surface. This means when water touches it, the clay activates and you'll actually see a little 3D effect. That added extra dimension to the image I got.
In addition, the leaves were pretty juicy, so you can see that at the top where the "ink" of the plant came out. But it's amazing - I couldn't have painted this! Look at the detail that was preserved on both the flowers and the leaves!
The cool thing is you actually get two prints - the top and bottom pieces of your sandwich are both arted :).
Now she instructs us to let it dry before rubbing off the plant material. I was impatient, so I dried mine with a heat gun and then rubbed it off.
I LOVE the way this looks and this technique. I'll have fun with it in the spring when my roses bloom.
Look out in your yard and see if there's something you can use. I'd love to try rosemary next.
The stamp, which I love, is a set we got at convention - a My Paper Pumpkin promotion set - I'll have another sample and a giveaway of this set soon :).
Remember - you can make beautiful things. If you practice.