Making the most of mistakes

Creativity is allowing mistakes... from

So today I have been sorting through work and framing up selected prints. The past few years has been a time of many experiments as I work my way through the print studio like a child in a sweet shop! I have generated a lot of work on paper with all the techniques, tests and trials. Much of the time I wan’t sure what I was doing or what result I would get. For me this is part of the excitement. Like watching a photograph appear in developing fluid, watching an artwork emerge as you create it is surely the biggest thrill.

Having the freedom to create and explore without a fear of what the end result will be is so important. Not only does it allow you to get going in the first place, but the unexpected results often give you something you couldn’t even have imagined when you began.

But there is a next part which I think is even more important. I found this quote:

mistakes to keep

Now I’m not sure of the full context, but I don’t think he’s advocating a full scale throw-away of all your work! At least I don’t think so. I think he’s talking about the fact that the very mistakes that you hadn’t anticipated can be the things that make a piece of work. Whether it’s the energy in a brush mark, an unplanned drip of ink, the way the paint dries and cracks; all these can add to your work. We should welcome them in and most of all learn to recognise mistakes to keep.

Sometimes the mistakes may even become a key feature of your own personal style. It’s all about building your own visual vocabulary and making sure you hang to what you like in the editing process. Editing? That’s for writers though, not artists! Ok, you can’t hit delete in a word processing program on a canvas or a metal plate, but a mental editing or review is a good habit to get into. Over time you learn more about the way you work and how you’d like to develop your ideas.

Some of my ‘mistakes’ have led me towards a more creative approach in my work. There’s no doubt this is riskier. A freer approach by its very nature means things don’t always go as planned. But learning to overcome that fear of the uncontrolled elements of making art is the only way to take steps forward. Some of them may lead you to great things!

I’d love to know what you think about this. Add your comment below and let me know how you deal with your creative mistakes.



1 reply
  1. Jenni
    Jenni says:

    Hi Alice, I think I called you Julia in my earlier comment.
    I like that whole chaotic experimentation piece, it really does aid both creativity and productivity for me.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!