Soaring to the Extraordinary

Sometimes it becomes necessary to get out of the head and into the perseverance of trial and error of letting go, for art to lose the ordinary.

The urge to control what goes onto the canvas is almost overwhelming at times. The image floating around inside must be the one that comes out on the canvas, page, etc. To do otherwise is to make a failing piece of art. Or is that the truth? At least that’s what lots of people assume and get into great mountains of frustration when what’s in the head is not what we’re seeing in the physical. Artwork is scrapped because it’s not measuring up to that ephemeral inner vision. The harder one tries, the worse it gets. Frustration takes over and the work is abandoned.

But what if that work was on the verge of being something really good. What if it was scrapped without giving it a real chance? How can that head vision become that physical vision? It can’t. Therein lies the problem. The only thing to do is give up. But not on the painting. Give up on the frustration of trying to make the head image be the physical image. Easy for me to say! I can say it but can I do it? Not without a conscious effort.

This bird never did become what my head was trying to say it should be. But I couldn’t give up because I had already promised it for an event. There was no choice but to persevere. After scraping off paint and putting it back on only to do it all over again, I finally came to the breaking point. I was tired and time had run out. I stopped scraping and started painting. Too tired to worry, I just let the paint flow, doing its thing. Not really thinking where I was going, I started painting from instinct. Then I went to bed.

When I woke up the next morning, there it was. Not what was in my head at all but something I liked much better. In an article in Professional Artist magazine, Eugene and Diana Avergon wrote, “By learning from trial and error and being patient with the journey, somewhere along this path, we can look for the significant strengthening of prowess in domain building, and perhaps, the releasing of the extraordinary.” I’m not saying this painting is extraordinary, but it is a whole lot better than what was coming out before I became too tired to fight. Maybe it was trial and error. Maybe it was perseverance. Probably both. But the difference came when I finally got out of my head. Both me and this Ring Billed Gull were freed once I was too tired to fight but unable to give up. Perseverance and the trial and error of letting go finally took over. In the end, me and the gull were soaring high.

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