I Mess Up While Teaching

Stephen Yavorski
2 min readJul 24, 2018

More and more, when I do my demonstrations for my students, I embrace making a mistake that is tripping me up. Tonight I messed up bad. It was actually embarrassing how bad I messed up my drawing demonstration. They wouldn’t have known about it, but tonight I flat out told them I stumped myself while drawing my demo. It was a great opportunity to show them how to work past things like that.

I then explained they’re always going to get tripped up now and again. Obviously I still do. It happens for all different reasons, maybe because of new, unfamiliar subject matter… or maybe it’s just been a long day. Point is, it happens to pretty much all of us, despite how many years we’ve been doing it. The difference is that as we get more experienced drawing and painting… sculpting too… we get more familiar with how to problem solve where we’re getting stuck. Big mistakes are seen as smaller mistakes, because it’s more familiar for us for fixing them… not to mention, they happen less in the first place.

Sketch I drew a while back. Sometimes you just simply fuck up. Don’t worry. It happens to all of us.

I don’t know if I can recall if any of my art instructors made any mistakes in front of me while teaching… or at least if they made them and I knew about them. If they did, they hid it really well. I can only speak for myself that if my instructors showed themselves making mistakes, it would make me more comfortable being open about them and therefore being able to fix them… on top of the fact that they could then show me how to fix mistakes like the ones they made. Fixing mistakes are intimidating. They are for one thing, more unfamiliar than just drawing things in the first place. They happen less, even if they happen often. It’s important to be comfortable fixing things and also comfortable with making the mistakes. If you are comfortable with making mistakes, you will learn how to work past them easier anyway and also just enjoy making art in the first place.

Maybe something I will start doing is intentionally mess up… or duplicate a mistake or common error so I can show people how to work through them. This would be on top of, of course, admitting when I hit a road block while demonstrating. They’re already intimidated, so why not show them that even with mistakes there is nothing to be afraid of? Pretty much most things can be fixed, and if we have to start over, we still learned something, right? After all, it’s just a drawing. Don’t worry about it…

That is my two cents, at least