The banner on this blog is a mistake, an accident. I was attempting to do pen and ink sketching in nature. I was somewhere in my mid-forties and wanted to learn some of the things I hadn’t while in high school art classes. Had a friend who was a visual artist and she had given me some tips, like how to draw trees.
I loved the Lake Michigan shoreline, and had decided it was time to try my sketching project at the beach. I knew of a little hidden park, where I could climb down wooden stairs, and sit quietly by myself to try what I had in mind.
I had a large leather bag that held most of my supplies: pens, extra ink cartridges, a few miscellaneous other items. I also carried a bottle of water for drinking. That day, about three quarters of the way through the sketch, I stopped to have a drink of water. I was sort of frustrated because the sketch was not turning out the way I had hoped. In my rush to get the bottle of water opened, it slipped out of my hand and water splashed over my current sketch. It was permanent ink and as soon as the water hit the sketch book, the ink began to spread out across the page. At first, I spent a moment cursing myself for my clumsiness, but then looked at the sketch and kind of liked what was happening.
Remembered that there might be a paint brush stored in one of the pockets of my bag, so found it and using the brush and a bit more water, finished up what had looked to be a mistake, but was really a happy accident. One that sent me on a small journey of exploration.
I began to take along a small spritz bottle of water and found a lot of pleasure in my exploration. The added step in the process seemed to add a mood all its own. I went from simple pen and ink sketches,
to something that also seemed to express feelings. Even the more moody ones.
Next step was to try it with my water color pencils.
I remember that summer with a great deal of pleasure. Exploring and learning are deep inner drives, I try hard to keep alive. Yes, some mistakes can only be discarded, but I would urge you, always, to stop before doing so and ask yourself, what can I learn from this misstep? You might be surprised at how many mistakes are happy accidents waiting to be found and more deeply explored.
I love this story…and the paintings resulting from the initial spill. Gorgeous!
Thank you Sherry. I was looking for a certain image when I found this sketchbook, and how it told the story of my mis-take and what occurred during that summer. Art, for me, in whatever form it takes, is always another unfolding of our story. It is us, exhaling, expressing who we truly are.
My drawing teachers – including Natalie Goldberg! – taught me to include mistakes. This post inspired me to one about my own artistic journey (so far). 🙂
And yours, in turn, made me realize my own somewhat silent journey through shapes and colors. Pen and pencil, notebook or sketchbook, all are important aspects of that story. I’m glad you were inspired and I really like your story and your choice of colors and lines. I do a lot more of my coloring on my computer now. Playing is fun and it hikes up our ability to learn to another level. Isn’t it great?