I finished a heart which I started last month. I worked on it last weekend and thought I botched it. I put too many layers of paint on it and had no idea how to proceed. As I was out of town for the rest of the week, I thought about what I might need to do to get it back to the image in my head. I must admit I was discouraged and had no idea how to proceed. 

It can be hard to recover from what you think is disaster. You have an idea and begin to create, only to go beyond your wheel house or imagination, and you feel like a failure. You end where your idea and hand have argued, only to see what you think is a mess taking over your current piece of work. Ugh, how to proceed when you are flummoxed?

When we get good at something we use words like expert, credentials, or experienced. We become known for our expertise and spend years perfecting our style, method and craft. That also means we can get stuck in our own comfort zone. We layer on more years of experience, more years of doing what we do best, more years of giving our best. And if we are not careful we can end up secluded in our comfort zone, safe in what we do…good at it, never needing to change. 

But the best in us always needs to be challenged and prodded to keep moving forward. We need to keep updating our skills and knowledge and pushing ourselves to get even better. To do that we need to try new things, different things. We need to try something outside of our wheel house to reinvigorate our imaginations. I am a calligrapher who loves handmade paper. I have been creating art in that genre for over twenty-eight years. This heart is a complete deviation from my usual work. Yes there is paper. Yes there is color. Outside of those two things this heart is nothing like the rest of my work, and I love it. This finished piece looks nothing like I wanted it to when I started, and yet I am very pleased with the results of my efforts. 

I had to give up my expertise and release my ideas to let the mistake take over. I not only had to step out of the box, I had to recycle the box and ride into a new wheel house. I had to accept that what I was doing was we new for me, different, unlike anything I ‘knew’ how to do…and just let go. By doing all that I created something new and exciting that has brightened my art and encouraged me to try more. I moved from disaster to a great adventure, and I look forward to more creative adventures in the future.