Most artists trust their intuition. Sometimes it leads you to make mistakes, but that hardly matters. There is no such thing as failure, you just learn from it and go on.

— David Hockney

One advantage of oil painting resides in the medium’s “forgiving” nature.

You can wipe or scratch off blunders while they’re fresh; paint on top of the them; or wait for them to dry and begin again.

In my case—being blunder-prone—clemency’s just what the doctor ordered.

Mistakes hardly trouble me while I’m painting. I know the still-wet paint will pardon me.

But it’s another matter after the fact, when I realize not a brush-stroke or two, but an entire painting, is a debacle.

Elvis. Soap-carving.

After the fact is when the grave disappointment and nausea set in, the Beckettian self-loathing and dread—typically 48 hours after I’ve laid down my brushes and can judge the Frankenstein I’ve created with the cold, avenging eyes of the village onlooker.

That’s when my inner critic starts ranting. “What a fool you are! Wasting all that time and those expensive canvases and tubes of paint. Again. What are you thinking?”

Thank goodness my mistakes aren’t failures, but “teachable moments;” constant opportunities to repeat my mantra: “There is no such thing as failure, just learn from it and go on.”

Were my innumerable fiascos true failures, I’d probably ditch the pallet and easel and take up soap-carving.