"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep."
That is my favorite quote. But in my class, I like to call mistakes in art "happy accidents." When you are able to allow your creative mind to be free to explore various possibilities, then you are limited by nothing; not even by a so called mistake. It is easy for us to get caught in the details of a drawing or painting and attempting to be as accurate as possible. I see this happen to my students all of the time, especially when faced with an abstract or loose style drawing assignment. A panic attack almost occurs because they don't know how to just let go and embrace the "not knowing" feeling.
I discovered a cute little book called Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg, which has enhanced my Ink Blot assignment. I love this book and how interactive it is.
I had my Intermediate/ Advanced Drawing class sit in front of me on the floor and I read to them. We talk about how it feels to make mistakes in art. I explain that weith a flexible mind, an artwork can often times be saved. The day before school starts I take a bunch of cards and drip, splatter, and spill ink onto them. This is the fun part for me. I've contemplated taking tea bags or coffee to stain them, but I always forget and stick to the ink. After reading the book and showing them a few other images that were created from ink blots, I lay out the cards and have them pick the one that "calls to them." They are to turn it into a fun drawing. There are no rules about what they can draw. Secretly, this is my test of their imagination. After looking at their results, I can usually tell who will struggle with assignments that are based strongly on ideas.
Here are some of their Ink Blot Drawings:
I feel people fear making art because they fear making mistakes. They look and compare themselves to others, which is only a good thing when you are using them as inspiration, not a measuring stick. In general, mistakes are critical in life. You learn to recover from the mistakes, but you also learn how to not make the same ones. I'm going to be 33 this year and lately I have been looking back at my life...mistakes included. I like who I have become. I know that without the mistakes I've made along the way I would not be where I am now.
Embrace the mistake!