Monday Motivator: The Seed of Your Next Art Work

Monsieur P painting

“The seed of your next art work lies embedded in the imperfections of your current piece. Such imperfections (or mistakes, if you’re feeling particularly depressed about them today) are your guides — valuable, reliable, objective, non-judgemental guides — to matters you need to reconsider or develop further.”

— David Bayles and Ted Orland, Art and Fear.

Before you destroy a piece, ask if you’re destroying your seed corn. Put it aside, hide it away, save the decision for another day when the emotions from making it are less strong and the results less precious. Sometimes there’ll be something that I like that I then try to do/use again, sometimes it becomes the lower layers in another painting. Sometimes I’ll still hate it and then it gets destroyed, but by then I have other seed.

3 Replies to “Monday Motivator: The Seed of Your Next Art Work”

  1. I’m currently working on a painting started over almost 20 years ago, a watercolor painting from our apartment window overlooking the City’s rooftops and harbor. At the time, I was seriously endeavoring to convert to watercolor, then finally realized that my true calling was acrylics, the medium I’d been using all along. I forgot about this early attempt and then found it a few weeks ago and glued it to a masonite board using heavy gel medium – made a cradle frame backing, sprayed image with fixatif then gave it two coats of transparent gesso and a light sanding The original image serving as drawing, the acrylics glide, texture and glaze over it like magic – gone the stress of preserving whites! That’s one of my seed stories.

    1. 20 years … wow! This is a really inspirational story! Might just have to go through my folder of long-not-looked-at drawings to see what they suggest to me.

  2. What a great quote! Every time I start a new painting, I set myself a challenge. The challenge often relates to an area in which I would like to push beyond my comfort zone. As well, it often comes out of some aspect that I have struggled with in a previous painting. However, I had never quite thought of the idea that my mistakes in a current piece form the seed or guide for future works. What a positive and inspiring idea!


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