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Is Making a Mistake a Negative Thing?

You cannot progress without mistakes

This one is a Real Biggie. Because most of us are constantly striving for perfection in our creative endeavours, we don't do well with mistakes. Mistakes however are an integral part of the creative process. You cannot progress without mistakes and imperfections.

We need to reframe how we look at mistakes, seeing them as opportunities for growth and understanding. In fact, when you think about it, pretty much everything we do in an art practice is built on making mistakes and correcting them. Even going way back when, from your very first steps, attempting to walk as a child, to every painting you will ever paint, you got it wrong, before you got it right.

mistakes are not negative

If I shudder at this thought, I am not grasping the gift that mistakes give to me. They teach me how not to do something. If I keep making the same mistake over and over, then it simply means I'm not paying enough attention to what is happening. The clue is always to be found within the mistake. In art these things can be broken down into a set of questions that I can ask myself when I realize that things are not going as I had planned. For instance I might ask,

Have I drawn it correctly? And there are a whole set of sub questions that go with that such as:

  • Is the tone right........?

  • Is the angle right.......?

  • Is it saying what I want it to say on the emotional level ?

  • Does it flow? Is the composition working?

And so on.

In your Art Practice, making a mistake is not a negative thing, it is merely another brushstroke closer to finishing a great painting.

Next Week: Taking a deeper look at perfectionism

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