Friday, March 4, 2011

No Mistakes in Art

I call this mixed media piece "Don Quixote."  I used a watercolor that didn't quite work out as the base, applied pattern tissues, melted crayon, bees wax, charcoal, and applied pieces of other watercolors to the melted wax.  One of my gallery visitors viewed this piece and told me that it was brilliant.  I merely smiled and thanked her.  But later I did tell her the story of how it came to be (when she was relating to me how she couldn't write a good poem).  "Don Quixote" would not have come into being if the watercolor was successful.  The fact that I wasn't happy with the watercolor was the inspiration for what came after it. 

So did the watercolor really fail?  No, emphatically no.  What happened was that it migrated into an even better piece.  I let myself go with creative flow. 

I think failure comes about when you have an idea in your head and won't let it go even when something else appears.  Art is a process.  Remaining open to process is full of thrills, delights, risks, and rewards. 

I've found the same to be true of writing.  My idea of how a poem is going to go is often usurped by how the poem goes.  Suddenly it's like a river that has changed its path.  When you learn to follow the process, let go of your expectations and open yourself to possibilities, then I believe art starts to happen. 

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