Unclouded Eyes

The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

"My six year old could do that," a woman behind me remarks. I feel a twinge of irritation, but I don't blame her; a few years ago, I would’ve agreed. To the average eye, Grace Hartigan's work of Abstract Expressionism, The Gallow Ball, appears to be a splotchy mess of dripping colors.

I grew up belittling the work of world-renowned contemporary artists, baffled at their lofty prices. I believed that art should be beautiful or meaningful, and never understood how indecipherable images fit either description. Creating abstract art myself was out of the question—until last year, when a painting caught my eye as I was browsing online for inspiration for my AP Art portfolio. It was a painting that I normally would've dismissed as child's work, but the longer I looked at it, the more captivated I became. I marveled at how a simple composition could evoke such strong emotions within me, and yearned to create something that could affect others as much as this painting had affected me.

My first attempt was acrylic on canvas. I did my research—spent days studying paintings and reading about the history, practice, and techniques of modern art. As I dipped my brush in paint and raised it to the canvas, I tried to imitate the techniques...

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