There is something mystical about spending time in the studio creating without ‘a plan’.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Plans are important. When organizing an event, an election, a campaign for something, an attack maybe, plans are critical. But… when plans involve other people, or objects, it can be hard to predict how they will respond to your plan. As Dwight D. Eisenhower is attributed with saying, “No plan survives contact with the enemy.”
As an aside, the originator of the quote, which was not quite so pithy until condensed by a speechwriter, was a Prussian Field Marshall in the mid 19th century, Helmuth Von Moltke, who said, “No operation extends with any certainty beyond the first encounter with the main body of the enemy.” Yeah. You can see why someone had to make it more quotable. Source
I kind of like what Mike Tyson is attributed as saying, “Everyone has a plan until they’re punched in the mouth.”
Okay. So back to ‘no plan’ at my art table.
Yesterday I sat down to play. And that was as far as my planning went. Without thinking about what I wanted to create, I pulled out some watercolour paper because there was still some paint in my dish that I thought I’d use up. It’s a nice thing about watercolour paint. Unlike acrylics, it ‘comes alive’ when touched by water when still on the palette or dish.
More than anything yesterday, I wanted to simply practice making subtle backgrounds.
And then, I met my ‘enemy’. The ‘add one more element’ artist in me who just can’t ‘let go and let be’.
That artist usually appears when I get to a point where I’m liking where I’m at. No. No. it hisses! It can be better! Add Something More.
Sometimes the ‘something’ works. Sometimes not.
Like in the painting above. That big rose…
It was really soft and subtle until I decided to try out some pastels on it. That’s when I discovered my white pastel stick had a bit of black on the edge. Naturally, I didn’t check the edge until I touched the page…
Then it became an experiment in figuring out how to soothe the dark splodges with more vibrant pink.
And perhaps that’s the point of planning. The plan was to ‘have fun’. My responsibility was to breathe into the joy and the mess and find the fun in it all.
The fact is, amidst the fun there were moments of distress and stress. Moments where I wondered, “What am I doing?” and moments where my heart sang with joy.
Through it all, there was the creative impulse beating wildly free with its exhortation that, “To have fun you gotta let go and be present in it all.
To Let Go and Be Present In It All doesn’t mean ‘anything goes’. It means I am willing to let my curiosity take me places without my judgement interfering. It means I’m willing to be open to curiosity, experimentation and practice.
It’s said that it takes doing something 10,000 times to become a master.
Imagine if I imbued every 10,000 attempt at doing something again and again as ‘fun’!
In that case, I’ve had a lot of fun over the past 13 years writing blogs! With 3,896 blog posts published since I posted my first blog on March 10, 2007 (this includes 1,677 posts on my original blog, Recover Your Joy) I am over a third of the way to becoming a master blogger. Now that’s a lot of fun!
Perhaps it’s time for me to have fun painting 10,000 flowers…