When You Come to the Boundaries of What You Know: It is Time to Make a Few Mistakes

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When You Come to the Boundaries of What You Know: It is Time to Make a Few Mistakes

By Thomas Matthew Pierson

            Much that has to do with drawing, painting, and anything involving art is the exploration of the unknown.  I think when we first begin our path as artist, we have this assumption of what art is.  We have this ideal vision of what a drawing should be.  In some regard there is some truth to this.  If we didn’t have standards, the quality of animation, special effects, and illustrations would not be as good as they are now.  But to the laymen, this is what people assume art to be, it’s the more commercial, more popular distributed forms of art.  Many do not go into the minutiae of the art-world.  That is perfectly fine, but for the scholarly pursuit of the arts, it is not good to be ignorant to artworks you do not fancy. 

            Being a life student of the fine arts means that you will end up on the edge of what you feel possible in your artistic abilities.  This may surface as technical ability, visual aesthetic, or just flat out now knowing what to do next with your artworks.  I experience questions with my work often throughout the process of creating my pieces.  I try to seek answers to them as well.  This is doubly so for new students of the arts.  Especially in drawing, there are times when you are only able to work on a drawing for 30 minutes and have no clue what step to take next. 

            It is this state of investigation where you have options.  You can start a new drawing taking what you learned and trying to apply it to the next piece, you can try something completely out of the ordinary, or maybe you can keep working on the drawing until  you have visually destroyed it.  All have their pros and cons.  Starting a new drawing has its benefits because you can take what mistakes you learned in the process of the drawing and try applying it to the next drawing.  This only works though if you were being mindful during the process of the drawing and taking notice where you were making mistakes. 

            Trying something completely out of the ordinary will challenge you visually and take you out of your comfort zone.  I cannot tell you what this is, it could mean switching hands on your drawing, adding a new media to the piece, attaching another piece of paper onto your drawing to increase the scale and scope of your composition.  Whatever gets you out of your comfort zone falls into this category.  You can also consider working on your drawing until you have exhausted every single visual option you have to mind.  This could entail re-drawing the same object over and over on your drawing surface.  Drawing the lines over the previous lines until the marks visually make no sense.

            I am a huge proponent of repetition.  It is a great way to strengthen your muscle memory, and to build up your ability to recreate the same mark repeatedly.  Although at times this can become quite boring.  It is a necessary skill in the pursuit of pushing your visual limits. Even the ability to deal with long bouts of boredom as a skill can tread on your boundaries of the unknown.  The ability to perform boring tasks for prolonged period of times is a most valuable skill.  Especially in the world of art.  Lets face it, when you learn something new in drawing or painting it can be exciting and add kindling to your flames.  There can be times though, when you’re in the 30th hour on your drawing and you do not see the finish line in sight.  The ability to endure the torture of monotony is a prized ability. 

            It takes going out of your comfort zone and pushing past your limitations.  If you ever come to a point where you do not feel uneasy in your artistic journeys, a point where you feel too comfortable.  Then it is time to start purposefully making mistakes.


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