“Uncertainly” 10×20, oil on canvas Buy Now

“Art is like beginning a sentence before you know it’s ending. The risks are obvious: you many never get to the end of the sentence at all– or having gotten there, you may not have said anything. This is probably not a good idea in public speaking, but it’s an excellent idea in art making…”  Art and Fear, Chapter 2

If you’re just tuning in to this August 31 in 31, I’m working my way through the little book Art and Fear as I create one painting each day for the month. Chapter two has a lot to say about uncertainty, goes so far as to call tolerance of it “the prerequisite to succeeding.”

I can’t help but think of my former art students and their frustrated faces when some technique was not going as they had planned– shadows on a face that just made the subject look “dirty” or cool colors that for whatever reason wouldn’t make their backgrounds recede.  And then the other side of the coin– a drip, or scratch, unplanned, that made what Bob Ross would call a “Happy Accident” and I might just call a miracle.

I believe in and live for those miracles. I pray for them by working through uncertainty knowing that for all the times it curses you with not-quite-right shadows or colors– it also gifts you with beauty your knowing hands would never have conceived.

I had intended for today’s painting to be less representational, more abstract, but I had trouble moving away from the shape of the bird. Even as I sought to pull out interesting blocks of color relationships from the confines of the form, I let the shape of the flamingo stay. It was as though it insisted. I opted not to fight it since there are still 26 days to play around with that hot pink triangle that I’d like to become a hot pink triangle and not a flamingo’s leg– but who knows what might actually transpire.

Uncertainty is exciting. That thing Picasso said seems true now more than ever: “Inspiration does exist, but it must find you working.”