Peony and Parakeet

Bad Art – How to Fix Mistakes?

Still Life, a collage and a greeting card for my sister, by Peony and Parakeet

Have you ever created something you absolutely hate? Did you make a page in your art journal that makes you want to tear off the page? Did you create a card that you don’t want to keep neither give? I do that almost daily, with the exception that I don’t call that artwork finished. Making mistakes is the essential part of the creative process. Without destruction there won’t be creation!

I will show the process of the collage card that I made for my sister. You will see how I almost destroyed it with very bad decisions. You will also see that without those stupid mistakes the card would not look detailed enough in the end.

Yes, speaking of finishing, every art teacher that I have met always say the same thing: “Your art is finished when you feel so. If you can’t think of anything more to add, it’s finished.” I don’t think so. If you want to develop in making art, you will not stop when your brain says so. It is your rational side that is speaking and you need to get in touch with your creativity.

Let’s see how I began creating the collage and dive deeper in the process of making mistakes and letting creativity take over.

Sketching a collage, by Peony and Parakeet

Here’s the fist step. I just grabbed a paper and had some fun doodling. I felt pretty light and cheerful at this stage.

Creating a collage, a phase photo, by Peony and Parakeet

Then I took out the watercolors and realized that the paper that I had picked is perfect for them. It was handmade recycled paper that I had bought from a handcrafter a year or two ago. The paper is made from old linen sheets and I love the way it absorbs water.

Creating a collage, adding mica flakes, a phase photo, by Peony and Parakeet

To create something a bit luxorious I opened a jar of Golden Mica Flakes. It is actually grey paste which looks stunning gold after drying.

Creating a collage, a phase photo, by Peony and Parakeet

After adding some details with watercolors and extra doodling, you could be fooled  to think I was finished. But knowing better, I moved forward and got a crazy idea to cut the piece.

Creating a collage, a phase photo, by Peony and Parakeet

Oh my. At this point I knew I had made the first move towards distroying my pretty little ornament. Next move to the same direction: sewing machine!

Creating a collage, adding machine sewing, a phase photo, by Peony and Parakeet

I got an obcessive idea to use machine sewing for the details. And after trying to fix everything with some more watercolors, I knew I had done it: it was ruined!

Creating a collage, a phase photo, by Peony and Parakeet

I could have stopped here and call it bad art. But while making a lot of bad decisions and messing up the good start, I had found the speed and the mindset of creative thinking. This is why you should never stop after making mistakes: you have then just opened the door to your imagination! And if you made no mistakes, you did not even enter the front yard!

Now, at this point of the process, you should not quit neither continue with the rational mind. Do not take any black or white paint and paint it all over! That is conscious destruction and far from what your creativity can accomplish.

You should just keep on working with high speed and continue adding new details. Even if it feels stupid, even if your mind is blank, just keep on adding. If you feel like you need any direction, then turn on some music or take a picture or a photo that you like and put it near to your work area. But do not look the picture intentionally. Just trust on your wild side!

Having someting inspiring near the workspace, a russian greeting card

To save my ruined piece, I used this lovely card that I had bought a year ago while visiting St Petersburg, Russia. I set it so that it was a bit higher than the table top. That way it did not catch too much attention while I was working.

Still Life, a detail of a collage by Peony and Parakeet

See how the russian roses began to appear to my work! I did not think of the roses or the rest of the russian card while I was trying to save the collage. I worked fast and intuitively  without questioning anything.

How did I knew when it was finished? When the things I kept on adding became smaller and smaller, finally so small they were almost invisible.

Still Life, a collage by Peony and Parakeet

So, my advice is that if you made something pretty, destroy it with your mistakes! And when you made a punch of them, begin enjoying your creativity and finish your work!

I try to be prepared for the “bad art” part so that I begin lightly. Starting with skecthing and watercolors makes it possible to add plenty of layers afterwards.

I would love to hear what your thoughts and experiences are on this method. Leave a comment!

10 thoughts on “Bad Art – How to Fix Mistakes?

    1. Caroline, thanks for the comment. I find it interesting how many experience that but how little people talk about it!

  1. I love your work, but especially the pictures and thoughtfulness you put into your little essays about your process. I’m a newcomer to art making and really apppreciate the day to day encouragement and inspiration you post. I’ve been working on making decorated papers using your black work. To keep working thru what seems to be a mistake surely does stretch and grow my creativity. Thank you loads and loads:)

    1. Pat, thanks so much! For years I have seeked for sources that cherish creating, not only give advice on projects. Then I thought that maybe there are other similar minded people too. I love to write about creating and I am always analyzing how and why people create not only what they create. Have fun with your papers and celebrate your growing creativity!

  2. Love all your posts. This one hit home because it is something I am struggling with. You said if you make something pretty…….
    Well I have many pretty gelli prints that I am struggling with. I love them but they need to be used but I can’t cut/mess up. Well, yes it can!

  3. Pavi
    Thank you so much for your thoughtful commentary. Your work is stunning and thoughtful. I am so giddy to have discovered your blog

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