For me, starting an art project is letting go of your worries about your fear of failure and being tied to an idealized perfect outcome. Why? Creativity is an unknown road. You may end up in a blind alley but that is okay. Part of art exploration is learning what does not work.

One of my best art project results came from not having a specific idea about the outcome. I discovered a new art style for me by stumbling around. In college, I took an art class that taught a variety of art techniques. My art teacher gave me the assignment to paint a koi fish pond using watercolor for my art final. I wanted to paint it large but did not have the budget for a large sheet of watercolor. Instead, I improvised and got a large piece of butcher paper, so it was about 5’ x 3’ (1.52 m x 0.92 m).

However, as I started, I realized that I could not get the deep colors that I wanted with watercolor, so I started using acrylic paint but applied it thinly like watercolor. The painting looked better but was still missing something. I added pastel over the top then it worked for me.

Koi Fish Pond Artwork by Laurel Latto
Koi Fish Pond Artwork by Laurel Latto

For the final, we all put our art projects on the wall for sharing. My professor and class liked it even though I did not follow the instructions to use watercolor. It was a blessing that I had a good relationship with my professor. When I made the decision to use acrylic and pastel, I knew she would forgive me since I was being evaluated for my creativity and not just my watercolor technique. I was able to play.

That time the art technique worked out. I tried a few years ago to use that style to create an illustration (scroll below) for a children’s picture book idea I had. In that piece, I got feedback from a children’s book art director that it did not work because I had too many of the same kind of lines. The grass was the same as the sky so there was no depth. Also, the pastel did not allow for subtle facial expressions since the pastel is chunky.

I have not figured out how to make the style work in children’s book illustrations yet. Likely it will involve adding another multimedia layer like digital art over the top of a background. It may also not work at all. Either way, I will give my creativity permission to explore. You can see some of my experiments on LaurelLatto.com.

Rainbow Park Families Art Illustration
Rainbow Park Families Art Illustration

I wish you well in allowing for unknowns in your creative discovery process. Einstein’s quote below is about science but captures the sentiment well:

“If we knew what it is we were doing, it would not be called research. Would it?”

-Albert Einstein

I hope you give yourself permission to creatively adventure in your art projects and in life.

Creatively Yours,
Laurel Latto
Spirit Playbook Artist

P.S. If you have any thoughts, insights, or questions please do share them with me by replying to this post or joining the conversation in the  Facebook Group “Activate Your Creative Spirit”.

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