Practice is necessary to learn anything. Practicing art is another word for getting better.
Practice can take a lot of different shapes. Right now, I’m working on minimalist collage. I was finding it difficult to be as minimal as I wanted to be, so I gave myself permission to do a very busy, color-jammed collage.
When you give yourself permission, your inner critic will show up and tell you that you’ll never sell this “trial and error” pieces. That’s right. You won’t. But I’m not experimenting to sell, I’m experimenting to get better. And unless I try one thing, I won’t know if it works, if I want to do more, or where I need to do some more work.
Here’s the busy piece I did, using a lot of color and largely rectangular or square shapes. Of course, there was a piece of map that didn’t “belong.”
And here’s the piece I did after that. I found three pieces of paper buried at the bottom of my stash–a highly textured blue and green and a sheet printed with stars. I decided to add a fourth color–the orange Monsoon Paper piece. The moon is cut out of the same Monsoon Paper piece, but flipped over, so the color blending on the back shows up.
Both pieces are very different. And because I gave myself permission to play with the first piece and was very strict with myself that I had to “get some minimal work done” with the second piece, it turns out that I like the first piece better.
Sometimes, in our need for perfection, we forget to play. When we allow ourselves to play, our creative work is better, looser, and more free than the one we put all the constrictions on.
Play is a part of getting better at what you do. Don’t push it out of your life.
—Quinn McDonald is a writer who loves collage.