Making Bad Art

So, I had big plans for January.

I was going to make a ton of great art where I was going to explore different media and mark-making and discover new processes to fulfilling expression.

I would create drawings, sketches and paintings; my creativity was going to flow like never before! By the end of the month I would be well on my way to funding my new art studio.

But what really happened?

I created a LOT of bad art. Unsellable art. Unsharable art. Bad stuff-I've-painted-over-several-times-now-it's-going-in-the-bin art. 

[Yes, I'm still calling it art, because apparently, art is art if my intention was to create art. So it's art.]

[What is bad art anyway?  Art that doesn't meet certain "technical standards"?  I seem to recall The Impressionist artists were accused of such things back in the 1860s. So were pretty much every artist in every subsequent art movement.] 

It's easy to feel a little despondent looking at the pile.

Dare I say, it's easy to feel like a failure.

Until I noticed something interesting...

The art felt bad to me because it wasn't expressing what I was feeling. I expect art on the page or canvas, like a great therapist, to reflect back my emotions with affirming calm. This art wasn't. Which is why it was dissatisfying to me.

This led me to the question, "what am I trying to express??"  

What am I feeling right now?

What do I want to say??

What kind of artist do I want to be??

OMG. Talk about putting a weight on my shoulders! This was supposed to be fun!  

Instead it felt like a battle going on between my head, hand and heart.

In short, I'd forgotten that "discovery" is supposed to be a road of pitfalls.

"Play" is supposed to be messy.

All of it is valuable.

What I was doing with all this "bad art" was answering the above questions with the answers "not this".

Then I created the image here:

It's unfinished and you don't need to know right now what the image represents or where I'm going with it next -

but there is something about these strong lines and blocks of colour - the colours themselves -  and the use of collage, that stirs something in me that I can't articulate verbally right now.


That is how making art is supposed to feel!

It took me a good few frustrating weeks but I got there!

I can't recall exactly how I got there, but I do remember responding to the urge to stretch a larger canvas than the 12x12 unstretched canvas I'd been working on.

I wanted to spread an extra thick Payne's Grey acrylic paint with a palette knife across the stark white virgin canvas. [It was SO satisfying]


Creativity is about taking risks. I realise that I struggle with my creativity because I'm NOT a risk-taker.

(I've always been taught "prevention is better than cure")  

With every new piece of work I develop, I run the risk of alienating those people who liked my previous work.

However, I have to accept that over the course of an artist's career, be it in any field, some work will not be liked by all.

An artist needs to express what is authentic and that expression will not always meet the need of a given audience every time.

Either you keep creating for the expectation of others, or you grow as an artist.

That's the choice I have to make.


Watch this space to discover how I develop these pieces.