Unexpected outcomes, part one

sketch ink drawing stamp

Penguins — sketches and final image

Some people call them mistakes. I like to call them unexpected outcomes.

It can be very frustrating when a drawing doesn’t turn out as planned. Why can’t I draw a straight line? Why isn’t the perspective right? The figures are flat. The colours are wrong. The ink has dripped onto the paper and now the sky is frowning.

Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this kind of creative struggle. Quite the opposite. I believe that unexpected outcomes are an essential part of the creative process. They’re an indication that we’re exploring possibilities, stretching ourselves and continuing to grow as artists.

You start with a blank piece of paper. You draw. After ten minutes (or an hour or a day), you’ve created something that NOBODY ELSE IN THE WORLD has created. Something new exists because of you. Okay, so it’s not what you imagined it would be and maybe you’re a bit disappointed. But sometimes, sometimes it takes your breath away. I did that? How did I do that? I wonder if I could do that again?

Sometimes the very thing that we didn’t intend is where the magic happens.

18 thoughts on “Unexpected outcomes, part one

  1. pennyloves

    I agree! Sometimes I feel like my drawing looks so darn crappy when I start. I have to keep telling myself that if I keep going, then it’ll start to look like something; just don’t give up. A lot of my drawings also end up stemming from very different ideas!

    Reply
    1. Anna Cull Post author

      I’ve lost track of the number of drawings/paintings I’ve kept working on when I’ve felt like giving up… but then I feel sorry for them looking so awful and I keep going. A crappy beginning can be wonderfully liberating — if it can’t get worse, it can only get better : )

      Reply
  2. M Todd

    I know exactly what you are saying. I can struggle along and then something magical happens. Animals are really that way for me – somewhere during the process they go from being a piece of art to having a soul – and I know exactly when it happens in every piece!

    Reply
  3. peterhanks

    You are so right!! With every stroke we are learning; it’s a process! I’m sure all the great artists got great because they didn’t give up when they were dissatisfied with their work. Keep calm (no ear cut-offs like Van Gogh!) and carry on!

    Reply
  4. janina

    I recall one time I was discussing a subject with another person, who asked me to draw it, as it seemed I wasn’t describing it too well! I said “oh, I can’t draw” and he said, go ahead anyway. As I kept describing, I was drawing, a simple black biro drawing, onto a scrappy piece of paper. It was squiggly, involved and, when I’d finished and looked at it, he gasped and said, ‘how Japanese’. I looked at it again and, yes, it reminded me so much of a lovely watercolour painting my mother bought when she was in Japan many years ago — of a monochromatic branch with leaves and fruit, small bits of colour, very involved. It resides on my bedroom wall. I guess I must have absorbed its style unconsciously and this was reflected in my drawing. I looked at my drawing again, I looked at the other person, and I said, “Yes, I quite like this! Thank you for making me draw!” 🙂

    Reply
      1. janina

        Still draw….No I don’t; photography does that for me! ‘Tho occasionally I may do a sribble/dawdle when I am on the phone… 😉

  5. zookyworld

    A wonderful thought, Anna. I’ve learned to become friends with what you call unexpected outcomes. Sometimes these surprises are frustrating, but other times they’re quite good. I really like what you wrote about something new existing after you’re done drawing. So true, so good. And a great reminder of this.

    Reply
  6. Pingback: Make mistakes | in the art cave

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