I hear some crazy things sometimes. It just cracks me up what some people say. Just by way of reminder, I work in an open art studio in the River Arts District of Asheville, North Carolina. An "open" art studio means that people can visit from all over the country and all over the world (literally!) and drop in and visit with me and take a look at my artwork displayed on my walls as well as watch me paint.
My work desk/easel is about four feet from the door and so I'm right there. I can hear everything. :) Here are some snippets of conversations I've heard recently that just made me crack up:
- "Babe, you could TOTALLY do this art! Ask him how he does it!"
- "Yeah, it's nice and all but did you see the PRICES!?"
- a guy to his girlfriend..."First he takes a photo and dips it in the glass..." (really??)
and my recent favorite..."Remember sweetheart, there are NO mistakes in art..."
That last comment is the one comment that makes me cringe actually. What that kind of mindset infers is that there is no such thing as skillfully crafted artwork and poorly done, ugly artwork. Believe me, I've made ugly artwork and I can guarantee there ARE mistakes in art because I've made a whole lot of them. Pay attention here...(I'm about to say something profound)...the freedom to MAKE mistakes with art is what also creates the freedom to innovate. Some of the crazy things I try actually work. Some unequivocally do not, but some do and that is how technique and skill advance.
I can guarantee there ARE mistakes in art because I've made a whole lot of them.
To say there are no mistakes in art is ridiculous. I mean, is art the ONLY thing human beings do that has no standard? I've heard good music and bad music. I've heard good voices and really bad voices. I've read well written books and really poorly written books. I've tasted really good food and really dreadful food. So is the creation of a painting or drawing in a completely unique category that makes it immune from scrutiny? Of course not. There is beautiful, well-crafted art and really bad art. I know this because I've made both.
"...the freedom to MAKE mistakes with art is what also creates the freedom to innovate."
I guess the other reason I don't like that comment is that it reveals some insecurity on my part, and I'm willing to own that. See, if it were true (that there are no mistakes with art) then I'm wasting my time trying to push the limits of what I think I can do with my own art; I'm wasting effort trying to get better and more skillful as an artist if there is no such thing as "better" or "skill" as it relates to art. But I really believe the creation of great art (any art -- painting, ceramics, sculpture, music, food just to name a few) involves developing skill. And skill at learning anything at all involves experimentation and playing with your ingredients and experimentation inevitably involves some failures. That's the human condition and art, if nothing else, is absolutely and completely human.