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When mess becomes art




My brain sometimes thwarts my creativity by telling me all sorts of things like “That’s a mess, not a piece of art”, “That’s awful, what were you thinking?... That’s the problem, you weren’t thinking”, or “That would never work; you’re just not good enough to do that”. Often, I feel like my brain is a crazy, little hyper-monster, who wants to suck all my imagination from me, and I must harness it in or I would never put pencil to paper, paint to brush, or eye to lens.

If I listen to that frenzied, hysterical little voice, all my ideas would remain just that – ideas. It takes me “channeling” my mom to put that voice in line with a stern, “Stop talking nonsense.” Most of the time, this mom-voice works, just as it did on me in my contumacious youth. However, occasionally that voice refuses to stop and just a sliver of self-doubt creeps like weeds into the garden of my imagination and stifles all creativity. It is in that moment that I must decide, and make a conscious decision, to keep creating despite everything the voice says, or I will just mope around for days lamenting about my “artist’s block” or citing all the reasons why I cannot dedicate any time to creating.

“We don’t make mistakes. We just have happy accidents.” – Bob Ross

It is not easy to create with a cumbrous cumulonimbus cloud of doubt sitting on top of your head, but I have found, if I block out that voice and just pick up my brushes and put something down on canvas, I can quickly dismiss all that doubt and start to paint again. The pieces I create during these periods have sometimes been just what the voice initially said it was - “a mess”, but I have learned to embrace the mess and work with it and not against it. I have also found that when I walk away from my messes and come back to them later, I can find beauty in them; some of my “messes” have become some of my favourite pieces, while others have inspired me and led me to even more beautiful ideas.

Even when the piece has not worked out, and the mess stays a mess, I have learned so much about my materials, mediums, and myself during this process that the mess becomes a precious lesson that I carry with me and serves to only make me better as an artist and person. I’ve always heard that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, and perhaps we can say the same for messes or mistakes. There are in fact a few pieces that I haven’t particularly cared for, that other people have loved. I can’t help but snicker when this happens, because when they say how much they like a piece, I literally become like my little hysterical brain who wants to shake them and scream, “Why? It’s a mess! #artprocess #creativity #imagination

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