Since day 1, I’ve painted three cardinals. It’s a subject matter I’m all too familiar with when it comes to oil painting– a real crowd pleaser.

But I’ve not (yet) posted any of the cardinals because for some reason I cannot seem to figure out, they just aren’t translating into watercolor. Red is my favorite color, birds my favorite painting subject. Seems like a no brainer, but I just can’t get it to work. I wonder how many more I’ll have to do before I can post it without cringing.

I’m telling you this because I find myself often thinking what I see online is effortless, born of talent, natural beauty, or just pure luck. The truth is smiling families in matching outfits, vacation selfies, and even paintings of stubborn little red birds– all of it has a bigger, harder, story we can’t see with just the surface shot. A little failure never escapes any of us no matter how much we try to put our best foot forward. Just like the brushes, paper, and paint itself, a dash of failure is always one of the main ingredients in any of my paintings. And I’m learning, slowly, to appreciate it as part of a beautiful process.

So, here’s a great blue heron for day 14 instead of the Moby Dick of a cardinal I’ve been chasing. The heron is this beautiful, powerful, and peaceful bird that reminds me to not let my frustration get the best of me– to stick around and patiently wait to see what happens.