• Carolyn Land

The Art of Possibilities

“There is no ‘must’ in art, because art is free.”  Wassily Kandinsky

A book advertisement came into my inbox today, for a book called: “The Art of Possibilities”, by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander.  It is a transformative guide offering 12 practices that will reveal the possibility in every obstacle, and a national bestseller. I could surmise from the fact that it is national best seller, people are in general, looking for creative solutions to everyday problems.

However, being a creative sort, with a positive outlook on things, I usually find creative solutions to obstacles, so I am not sure I need to read this one. What I did think was; that would make a good title for a “Blog”. Why not post some options we have when we meet an obstacle in our creative process?

As an instructor the hardest thing for me, is to leave a class and find what a student did during class, in the garbage pail.  If you want to learn…solve the problem!  If you feel the problem can’t be solved, figure out why, and then put the work away for a few months and compare it with your work months down the road.  Now I do understand that problem solving, is medium dependent.  It is easier to solve an acrylic and oil problem than a watercolor one. But, art supports are expensive, so let’s find a way to utilize those things we are not sure reflect who we are.  First: remember that, “every painting goes through an ugly phase” (Marla Baggata) I think this is true.  It is when you are half way done and you think you should be done, or you are not sure where to go next. So don’t give up too soon.  Second: if this a continual thing, you need to ask yourself if you are using the correct medium for what you want to do, and is it the right style for you? No one size fits all, when it comes to creating.

These rejected pieces are great to experiment with, so here are some solutions:

  1. Your watercolor failed. Think about getting out your ink and putting a drawing on top.  Add pastel to it.  Wash off the original and let what’s left be a ghost painting behind a second painting. Try your hand at an abstract or mixed media piece leaving some of the old painting show.  Paste white tissue paper on top and when dry, draw or paint on it.

Abstract painting by FL artist Carolyn Land

Roots             Tissue & ink over failed watercolor


  1. Your acrylic failed. Gesso over it. Put a gesso float over it. Put some textured medium on top and repaint. Collage over it. Paint it black and add pastel, colored pencils, or oil pastel.  Do another painting with a black background. Have a Jackson Pollack kinesthetic experience, and pour paint. We all need to do that once in our lifetime! Tear it up, and use it in another painting.   

 Color of Memory  Torn old painting on new painting

  1. Your oil painting failed. Here you can paint over, paint over, and paint over, or you can scumble a favorite color on top, cut into pieces, and make pouches. Cut out the section you like and re-stretch it, or mount into another painting.

  2. Old paintings, these are great for making new paper, especially watercolors, if you are into the paper making process. A blender and screen are needed.

  3. Cut failed paintings into pieces, bind them into a book, then stamp, stencil, and add script.

  4. My personal favorite! 😊 Do mono prints on top of them.

Mino print by FL artist Carolyn land

Rings in Nature        Mono-print over acrylic


Obstacles lead us to the art of possibilities, new opportunities, and discoveries. Don’t give up. Re-purpose those failed pieces.  We all have them.

“Art is about mystery.”                                            Marisol

0 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All