Whenever you watch Bob Ross paint, you always trust that by the end of the show he’ll have given you a twinkling treasure. Somewhere in the first half you might think, “Hmm, that looks a little off.” But a couple strokes later, off goes the contact paper and– WHAMMO– it’s a masterpiece. As an artist, I don’t always have that same level of trust in myself yet. If I plan– if I gather reference and do studies and thumbnails– I do. But if I skimp on any of those steps, there’s always the risk that by the time I’ve decided to call it a day and stamp my name on the piece, I’m only wrapping it up to stop myself from fudging it further. So at this stage I’ve learned very clearly that there is a distinction between a truly spontaneous piece and a fully-rendered planned piece, and that anything in between isn’t really controllable. It’s discouraging to trip up in that way, especially when you invest a lot (but apparently not quite enough) of yourself in something. I allow for a healthy level of open-endedness. I don’t ever cling to a desire for my work to turn out a certain way. I don’t know how it will turn out. I don’t mind that.

With the creative work of others, I like to get a glimpse at unpolished stuff like demos, sketches, and rough drafts. All those items that are not meant to be shared are a really great thing to share. If I may sound like an exasperating turd for a second: I don’t feel there are mistakes in art. Only trial runs and learning experiences. Frustrating, infuriating, rip-your-eyeballs-out-of-their-sockets learning experiences. Sometimes I fail. And I get panicky when I realize I’ve used up a whole day, failing. Doing what amounts to nothing. But it’s not nothing, is it? It all leads to improvement, which is definitely something. Ho-hum.

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