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Speed Bumps on the Highway of Art

I’m Mick Mastal and Today, October 15, is my day to give my input to the creative process. I could probably go on for days about it if given the chance.

I have been making art for a number of years and have studied under some fabulous artists. Creativity has always had mental blocks that got in my way, frustrating and discouraging me in my path to becoming and artist. I can recall one instructor at Wayne State that when I confronted him with my discouragements and frustrations would give me a cold look and say “Just go sit in the corner and make art.”

It seemed like a cruel thing to say to a budding art student but thinking back it was the best thing he could have said. I think back to that whenever I get in a creative slump, or Speed Bump, as I prefer to call them.

Right now I am teaching a class at the local Community College titled Exploring Ink Drawing. My students “suffer” from the same pains we all did, or do. They start out and things aren’t going the way they want and are ready to chuck it all. I make it clear that in my class there is no right, and there is no wrong. We are being creative and that’s all that counts. Nobody is allowed to use the word “mistake“. Erasers are NOT permitted in my classes. If it’s not what is planned, figure out how to use it. I was a goldsmith for a lot of years and one wise old timer told me he that the sign of a good craftsman was his ability to use mistakes. Good theory.

When a student gets to that “speed bump” I will just say ok, you think you screwed up you can’t do any worse, now let’s see what you can do with it. Sometimes you need to get back from your work. A student this evening thought her work was terrible. Told her start a new one. She did...I took a picture of the one she hated. Waited a half hour and showed her the picture I took. “Ya! That’s what I wanted mine to look like!...Oh wait! That’s mine!” Moral; don’t beat yourself up. It just might be good art!

At the moment the weight of “perfection“ is lifted from them they continue on to do a good work of art.

Also they are not allowed to throw any work out. We pull them al out at the end of the term and they see first hand that that Speed Bump wasn’t so scary. Of course they will put me on the line and ask me “What do you think is the best thing you have ever created?” My answer...the next one I do. Michelangelo summed it all up when he said “Ancora Imparo”, translated, “I Am Still Learning”

One more thing. A friend of mine suggested I write a book on drawing. What I did was got a journal with a blank cover and lettered on the cover “Art 101-Draw Something Every Day....Even If It Sucks”. She loved it. Had to make several more for her friends

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