In January 2014, one of my articles was published in Aquila about the Art of Failure. It was fun to research, and it got me thinking about how we can appreciate brokenness and re-think our failures.
My 2013 and 2014 were incredible years. There was so much brokenness and pain, hardship, loss and fracture that at times I felt like I was putting one foot in front of another and just remembering to breathe with each step. Just remembering to remain kind and calm in the face of awful adversity was really difficult. My family had deaths, sadness, and huge changes and decisions going on and at times it just didn't seem fair that we should be under constant attack on top of everything. I cracked, but I didn't shatter.
At the same time, I saw others struggling with life, and the different ways people have of dealing with their messiness and brokenness. I was reminded of the Japanese art of Kintsugi, where broken objects are mended with gold. I love this - Being broken doesn't mean the ugly end! The way that an object is repaired should make it stronger, show the flaws, celebrate the history. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we did this with our lives as well? We are all flawed and broken. We have failed again and again. I would not change any of my failures for the world. My mistakes were my most important lessons, and the greatest beauty in my life came from them.
"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep." - Scott Adams
I pulled out my old 'failed' paintings around this time, and spent a happy afternoon highlighting the failures with gold acrylic and watercolour paint. It was the best fun I've had in ages! The unfinished pieces, the ones that ran, the ones the cat walked over leaving prussian blue footprints in the sky... They all got touched up with gold. They really are beautiful, and useful - I think I might find a use for them as business cards. I got a new card guillotine (squee), and somehow my printer will be convinced to print on heavy gauge watercolour paper. And who wouldn't want a business card that is truly one-of-a-kind, with the flaws detailed in gold?
I had such a fun morning, pulling out old paintings and generally splashing paint around. Then the cat came along, lay on my creations and licked her bum.
She is my harshest critic.