Another Fortunate Accident Or Just Misfortune?

I really wanted to do something fun with this big piece of glass I found. It was the biggest so far, more than 3 feet by 3 feet. I sketched different variations of possible designs over many days. I knew I had to choose one or I would never get started. Eventually you just have to dive in.

As soon as I applied the bold lines of black, I felt I had tilted from my original plan. Damn. Do I keep going? Make the best out of a bad situation? When will I get another piece of glass this big?

Since I started this art thing a few months back, I had been promising myself I would make no corrections — that the process had to be open and free and accepting of whatever came of it. Each piece of art had to be an expression of circumstance, not intent.

Screw that idealistic crap! I might never find another piece of glass this big again! I grabbed a paper towel and some Windex and decided to start over. I didn’t even know if I could start over, but I was going to try. I sprayed the Windex and wiped the paper towel along the surface. Some of the black paint came off, but most of it just streaked and moved around. Much of the paint had dried enough already for most of the lines to maintain their original placement, but give up their guts each time I tried to wipe the whole thing away. I rubbed hard against the dry portions, leaving great swatches of injury along the entire span of design. Ugh, this was pitiful. It was just growing more and more hopeless with every swipe. Not only was I probably not going to be able to start over, but I was most assuredly ruining any chance of saving it and wasted…um…an entire…um…wait a minute. This was kind of cool.

Maybe I could make this work. Maybe I just needed to give myself up to the error. Not only that, but maybe I should paint the whole thing in error — create more scars and add the next color before the last color completely dries. It could be the worst thing I’ve ever done. But maybe not. It was time to check the depth of the pond by diving in head first. Let me know if I broke my neck.

This is how that big piece of glass turned out.


I liked it, but I wasn’t brave enough to purposely try to fail again with another large piece of glass, so I grabbed one of my smaller pieces. If it sucked, I’d throw it away and not tell another soul. I could just continue my life as if nothing happened.

I explored with lines to keep it simple. No reason to be a hero. I wiped the wet paint when some of it had dried. Okay, still kind of cool. Maybe not a total disaster.

I kept going without a net. No plan. No expectation.

There is something very cathartic about giving yourself up to commit errors that you have pledged to leave alone — promised not to fix. Much like life, sometimes we have to let the mistakes happen, maybe even encouraging them, to see what type of beauty can be expressed from the mess.

Believe it or not, error can become art.

And because of this, perhaps we should all stop being so hard on ourselves when we make mistakes. We can never really erase them and start over anyway, so why bother looking the other way when they happen? Maybe mistakes aren’t really errors at all, but rather, expressions of the awkwardness we are meant to feel when life jolts us into an unexpected direction. You never know.

Regardless, I think I will keep going in this new direction and see what happens…

Until my next mistake.


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