Monday, January 22, 2018

The Long Happy Winter Of Mistakes

January 22, 2018
"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep." 
                                                                                    ~Scott  Adams

When I talk to other Artists, we generally end up talking a lot about mistakes. The artistic journey is filled with them, how you see them has a lot to do with your success. 

We define a mistake this way: an error in action, calculation, opinion, or judgment caused by poor reasoning, carelessness, insufficient knowledge, etc. 2. a misunderstanding or misconception.

In modern english, the word, "mistake" is a noun. 

I take it to mean that a mistake then must be an idea, because it isn't a person, place or thing. Ideas, as they apply to art, are a good thing right? Therefore, mistakes are good. Could it really be that simple? Why not?

Mistakes or errors are largely in the eye of the beholder when it comes to art. I think people who are classically trained are also conditioned. They've been taught to see things in their work or process and to spot the mistakes. 

Who taught them? And what about the person before them and the person before that...until you go all the way back and find someone who just wanted to make sense of it all. So they applied some rules.

Humans prefer order over chaos. We are conditioned to find order. It gives us a measure of control in our lives, or at least perceived control. And so it is with art, that we look for process and rules. We train ourselves to apply these rules in our own work and then we look for it in others.

The paradigm isn't easily broken because it helps us make sense of the artistic chaos and it brings control to our artistic lives. I don't know if we are meant to break free from the paradigm or just recognize it exists?

These days I welcome the mistakes. They help me learn. They help me understand. If art is like a game with certain rules, you can decide which ones you want to master or you can ignore them altogether. Whichever you choose, I think it helps to find what makes you happy.

Your happiness shines through in your work whether it exists within the rules of the process or outside the confines of convention. 

I draw people because I like to. I follow some of the rules because it helps me see my artwork for more than just a spasm of creativity. I can see the nuance and precision, the order and mistakes, within the confines of those rules.

Perhaps it has always been this way. That we spend our lives following and mastering the rules, inventing new ones and redefining what it means to be an artist, to be human. I ponder these things, a great deal.

Now is the time to embrace our mistakes. Now is the time to accept the paradigm of the artistic process, so that we may choose whether to break it. 

This is turning into a long winter, filled with mistakes, and I am happy.


  1. scone6:38 PM

    You’re so right about the value of mistakes. Thanks!

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