Careful is Easy, Reckless is Difficult

I know, I know…you think I have really lost it, don’t you?

How could I possibly make such a statement? Because after almost 50 years of a career as a professional artist, I have found it to be true. If you wind yourself up tightly, use a small enough brush or a sharp enough pencil, keep your eraser nearby, precisely position each mark, you can eventually gain access to a reasonable (though superficial) likeness of the thing you want to draw or paint.

The problem is, you quite possibly will have squeezed every ounce of joy out of the act of doing it. The likeness might be accurate, but chances are that it will be dull, formulaic, and just possibly soulless. Careful work is often devoid of accident, surprise, serendipity and those are some of the elements that add vitality to your artwork.

Your audience can actually see whether you were taking risks with your marks, whether you were working boldly with your tools, and moving your work ahead with courage. We all wish to be brave and when we see someone operating in a bold way – whether in their dress, their body language, or their expression – our heads turn.

I intentionally ask myself to be reckless in my art process. The dictionary defines it as “without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action”. To me, it signifies that I am willing to risk it all – that everything is on the line. After living through a year of cancer and believing that I was dying (as my young sister had), the years since I recovered have been a gift. I have absolutely nothing to lose, so why not be a daredevil? Perhaps the following quote will inspire you to move toward your own braver art process –

“Be regular and ordinary in your life, so that you can be violent and original in your art.” – Flaubert