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I taught an art camp one summer for elementary-aged girls. On the first day of camp, I asked them to close their eyes for 30 seconds and draw a self-portrait. Apparently what I thought was fun.. WASN'T. They immediately protested, asking to do ANY OTHER activity. But being the stubborn woman that I am, I stuck to my guns and told them this activity wasn't optional.
When I called time, I happened to look at one of the most confident girls in the room and I saw her little face fall as she examined her work. She immediately crumpled the paper up and threw it to the ground, hoping no one would notice.
I knew this was a chance for me to say something profound - something that would revive her confidence. But honestly, I struggled with what to say. I mumbled something like "Don't worry! We all know this won't be a masterpiece. Just show us your work!". But the embarrassed little girl refused and turned five shades of red. Just as I was about to give up the fight and move on, another little girl in class piped up with, "When you mess it up, dress it up! That's what my art teacher at school says!". And immediately all the little girls started to giggle and the victim of my senseless warm up activity broke into a smile.
No Mistakes in Art
It was a simple lesson, yet so profound. And I think it's a lesson most women need to hear, especially creatives. There are no mistakes in art. There are only opportunities to explore a different path.
In my own personal practice, I've found that some of my least favorite work is the work that seems to resonate most with my audience. After all, art is so subjective. You may not like everything you create, but someone else will!
So next time you wonder if your work is good enough to share... or feel like you "messed it up", look at it with different eyes and challenge yourself to see things like that profound little girl in my art camp.
She may be young but she hit the nail on the head.