There Are No Mistakes In Art

pen artThere are no mistakes in art is my motto whenever I teach an art class. Unless you’re in school and taking an art class for a grade, there are no mistakes in art.

Does that make you feel better? I hope it does!

Because I’m afraid the latest slew of projects and kits available are making people think art is a lot harder than it actually is. For instance, my favorite rant: the zentangle.

When the zentangle first came to my attention it was a square on a piece of paper and a pen. You started randomly drawing lines, curves; maybe you added some dots or dashes. That’s all. You could get really wild and start with a circle. You could get totally carried away and be the guy who sold his zentagles on styrofoam cups.

What it wasn’t supposed to be was an entire business line with specially trained zentangle masters (I don’t know what they are really called) with classes, special books, and special tools.

Someone took a very simple art form and turned it into something way too complicated. I’m sure more than one person looks at the books, magazines, and other supplies available for creating zentangles and thinks creating them is a complicated endeavor. But don’t be fooled. All you need is a pen, some paper, and a square.

As I wander the craft stores (and I wander them a lot) I am dismayed to see the many things companies have complicated. So many easy crafts have become corporate-fied. They’ve stripped away the creative part and left a little bit of the finishing so you have something to show. They walk away with the money, and what do you walk away with?

Maybe some people are happy doing things this way. If the clearance bins at the craft stores are any indication, I think many are not.

The fun of art lies in the entire process, not just the finished product. From the first idea, to the first errant paint blob, to the laughs and groans that go along with it, the piece at the end holds those memories. Perfect or disaster, looking back at it will make you happy because of the adventure. And none of the steps along the way were mistakes, they were lessons.

Do me a favor and pick up a pen, a piece of paper, and draw a square. Start doodling in that square. Draw a zentangle that way. Then repeat. Don’t buy a kit!

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