Artistic Mistakes

“There are no mistakes in art…at least that’s what the instructor told me.” They had been bantering for a while now about some wine tasting and painting evening one of the waitresses had gone on over the weekend. I was eavesdropping. Enjoying their conversation while I sat at the diner bar, waiting for my food quietly. 


“There are no mistakes in art.” 


I pondered that statement as I stuffed my face with my bacon cheeseburger and fries. Was it true? Were there mistakes or just “happy accidents” like Bob Ross would say? Would he even say that? Am I thinking of “happy trees?” My thoughts digressed as I stuffed my face. 


Revisiting the thought again, I looked back on my own experience with design. Each project had a driving force behind it that couldn’t be deviated from. Our artistry had a purpose. It had an end in mind. To deviate from that end, or to have a weak end was a mistake. That’s why we did group critiques. To help weed out the bad from the good. To improve the work. To move us forward in a stronger direction. Yes. We made mistakes. Glorious mistakes. Beautiful mistakes. But, we did not fret because of them. They did not harm us or weaken us if we chose to learn from them. 


But does that relate to art? What is the goal of art alone? Works that have no objective but to exist or let the artist create are not the same as designs that demand particular results. Were there mistakes in artistry? 


I think back again to commissioned portraits. They had a goal as well. To depict a persons likeness in beauty. To adorn walls as a reminder of who possesses the estate those walls belonged to. They were masterpieces. Critically acclaimed or not, they were works of the Renaissance. Work of the Romantic. The kind of pieces that now adorn museums with placards. Revolutions on canvas. Those were also pieces where mistakes could not be afforded. Much like architecture is artistry that can be dealt if they fail, those works were deadly to the reputation of the artists if they held mistakes. They were costly in time as well as money. Those pieces perhaps had no mistakes, because they could not be afforded. But were mistakes made on them during the process!


No artist in their right mind would admit it. 


I have no answers. Perhaps it is a question that doesn’t need answering? Situations differ. People creat art for different reasons. I might be over thinking it, as I often do. It was merely a statement that my curiosity had to run with. 

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