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Is Bad Art the Gatekeeper to Good Art?

plus tips on getting back to the basic elements of good artwork

Here's my disclaimer before we dive in: "bad" art is just as subjective as "good" art – so don't come for me if you think my bad art isn't very bad 😂 As the creator I get to decide what qualifies as good or bad, even though these are the most simplistic terms and a strong case can be made that "bad" art doesn't even exist.

This post is your permission to just keep creating. The bad art plays a critical role in the evolution of our work and our artistry. For someone like me who creates art in a somatic and cathartic way, sometimes the bad art is a mandatory step in working through the jumbled emotions stuck somewhere deep inside the mind, heart, and body.

I recently created a purely somatic abstract piece where I processed some pain around my firstborn's birth and the challenges he faces every day as a result. It felt SO good to process these primitve fears and supernatural hopes through the spreading of paint and scribbling of marks onto canvas. The final result was a canvas full of areas I adored and areas that made me cringe a little, but because I appraoched the piece through a somatic lens I could appreciate the pain peaking through the less aestehtic areas. (It's worth noting that you can always paint over a surface or rework an area and that is my favorite thing about art.)

A somatic painting for my firstborn

Practical things you can do to make better art:

– get organized: how are you managing your time? The solution might be as simple as allotting more time to the studio. Your practice deservers more than the scraps of your leftover schedule (talking to myself here). Plus it's helpful to be intentional about organizing your space so that when you enter it you can jump right into creative mode instead of needing to stay in the left-brain to tidy everything.

– get inspired: get out in nature, connect with a friend, read a book or listen to a podcast. Fill up your inspiration bucket and it will undoubtedly flow out of you in the creation process.

– get prepared: if you're used to a more intuitive approach in your practice, consider a more planned approach to your next work. Settle on your color palette and subject matter ahead of time. Render a full-color, smaller scale sketch of the piece before beginning. This may feel like a chore, but it'll be worth the extra effort when you complete the final work.

– get re-educated: color theory and composition are two of the most important principles of art and design. But here's a more comprehensive list of topics you can dig into to re-orient yourself with the classical understanding of what makes up good art.

– get connected: collaborating with another creative may be just the thing to pull you out of a 'bad art' slump. We all have unique skillsets and perspecteives and there's so much power in learning from and leaning on each other.

Most importantly, remember to allow yourself to play and understand that what you perceive to be "bad", someone else might love.

Sometimes we need to embrace our "bad" art, to accept it with all it's visual flaws, to commit to letting it live in the world as-is. Understand that your bad art may be someone else's most cherished piece. They may resonate with it in such a deep way that it has us stepping back to marvel at the genius of the Divine at work.

Try recreating the same piece with tweaks in comosition, scale, color etc.

Take a look at some of the art from my recent collection I've deemed good 😍



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