Friday, April 25, 2014

Have the Courage to Paint Badly

Josh Shenk, author of "Lincoln's Melancholy" suggests to writers:

Get through a draft as quickly as possible. It's hard to know the shape of the thing until you have a draft. Literally, when I wrote the last page of my first draft of Lincoln’s Melancholy I thought, Oh, shit, now I get the shape of this. But I had wasted years, literally years, writing and re-writing the first third to first half. The old writer’s rule applies: Have the courage to write badly.

I came across the quote above and it struck me that the same is true of painting. So often students will put weeks into a painting and it ends up looking no better than it did a few hours after they started it. They are lost in learning how to paint. You can't take a painting further than you know how, no matter how much time you spend on it. Every painting is practice and the fastest way forward is to do your best, move on, and make lots and lots of starts. Let each painting go. Accept that it is what it is. Progress is in the process, not in insisting on perfection ... before you are perfected!

You won't know the shape of your creativity until you've risked letting go of the result.

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