In the book “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaakson the author talks about how getting fired from Apple turned out to be good for Steve. “The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again.” Being a beginner is about risk-taking, about not knowing that you “can’t do” something. It is about exploring. It is about breaking free from the comforting blindness of habit.
Diebenkorn was creating a lithograph using a stone plate. When he pulled the print out of the press he discovered that the force of the press had cracked the plate and printed the crack through the image. As I have heard it when he saw the final print Diebenkorn loved the image and suddenly realized that to embrace the element of chance in one’s artwork could bring the piece and the artist into wholly new territory.
I love the element of chance in my artwork which is partly why I love the “poured paint” technique. Using this technique I never have total control over the image and have to quickly work with where chance is taking it and me. I have heard it said by established artists that if every piece that you produce is “just right” then you are not pushing yourself, that you are no longer creating art by exploring what you don’t know. This is as true of our interior life as it is of artwork.
Growth… whether physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, or artistic… requires the stretching of boundaries. It requires generating a willingness to go into my unknown. It requires the willingness to risk, to leave off being safe. When we think that we know how it all works then we stop learning. When we stop learning then we stop growing. When we stop growing, we start dying.