Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wax Workshop

This past weekend my studio was filled with nine enthusiastic and industrious artists learning about the cold wax/oil process.  The air was filled with excitement.  The artists ranged from those with almost no experience at all to professionals, so I had a lot of explaining to do!

One of my goals was to encourage the artists to play, to experiment with a new technique and just let go.  So often we get hung up on goals, on making a product, on being 'perfect'.
I read to them from Eric Maisel's book, "Coaching the Artist Within", where he talks about the creative process. "To create, we have to take the bad with the good.  We're bound to write bad paragraphs along with good ones.  That's the eternal law.  We can get rid of those bad paragraphs later on , but first we must write them.  Otherwise we won't write anything at all .  If we try to write only the good paragraphs, we are three-quarters of the way toward paralysis.  The name that we've coined for this problems is "perfectionism".  But it isn't that people afflicted this way are striving to be perfect.  They are just striving to be good, which would be no problem at all, if only they also had internal permission to be bad."

I also read to them from the book, Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. "If you think good work is somehow synonymous with perfect work, you are headed for big trouble.  Art is human; error is human; ergo art is error. Inevitably, your work (like uh, the preceding syllogism...) will be flawed.  Why?  Because you're a human being, and only human beings, warts and all, make art.  Without warts it is not clear what you would be, but clearly you wouldn't be one of us."

Because I was their teacher, I gave them permission to make bad art.

They tried.

© Christine Montague

© Barb Taylor
 In aiming to create bad work, I think that everyone loosened up and let go of being 'good' for a while.  And they made some very exciting work.

One of the participants, Christine Montague talks more about the workshop in her blog post.

"Creativity is about play and a kind of willingness to go with your intuition.  It's crucial to an artist.  If you know where you are going and what you are going to do, why do it?  Frank Gehry


  1. i enjoyed reading your blog post - I also enjoyed hearing how your encouraged you students to let go of being perfect & creating 'perfect' art...this is a hard thing to do! I just contacted Guelph to sign up for your workshop in April - I hope to see you then!


  2. Thanks Jennifer,
    I only just came across this comment. Appreciate your thoughts and am delighted that you will be in the April Workshop. Look forward to meeting you.