July 2, 2013



Lately I have been noticing that much of the head space I need to be in while making my art is one that is comfortable with making mistakes. The search that goes into making art is an essential ingredient. Work that is born out of plenty of mistakes and corrections, at least in my experience, ends up having a potency and a depth all it’s own.

In leading workshops I have always tried to create an environment that makes mistake-making permissible. However, now I go one step further and come right out and say that the series of inevitable mistakes about to be made as they embark on a new work is essential, required even, if they want to produce amazing art. Mistakes and the resulting corrections are as important as color, texture and even design in art.

What makes mistakes so essential in Art?  Interestingly, this is not often discussed.

Everything that can be seen in a painting, such as composition, color, or form, etc. is often clearly analyzed. However the “feeling” one gets when standing in front of a painting is somewhat more ambiguous and of course subjective. This “feeling” is enhanced by the evidence of risk taking (code word for trying something and then correcting it).

I am drawn to work that has been born from this search. It just feels more substantial. It also seems to acknowledge my experience not just in my own art making but also in my life. Almost everything worthwhile comes with a struggle. Whether it is a painting, a relationship or even the myriad of important choices one makes in life. It is all just one string of half starts, recalibration, trials and errors.

When our art shows the evidence of this it becomes more ratable. There simply is more “room” in the painting for the viewer to occupy. This “outward facing” acknowledgment of the viewer, whether it is deliberate or not, seems to be integral to strong work. This more relateable work is collected more often. People simply want it in their lives. I believe this is because it serves as a reminder that  mistakes are not only unavoidable but, more importantly, there is the distinct possibility of greatness inherent in their correction.

Does this ring true for you? Does it effect your art?

I am curious.

With Gratitude,


PS – Please do share your thoughts in the comments below.

Nicholas Wilton

Hi! I’m
Nicholas Wilton
the founder of Art2Life.

With over 20 years experience as a working artist and educator, I’ve developed a systematic approach that brings authenticity, spontaneity and joy back into the creative process.

Join me and artists from all over the world in our Free Art2Life Artists Facebook Group or learn more here about Art2Life.

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