making mistakes, looking foolish

I just ran across four things that have stacked up to provide me with a pointed reminder about creativity, and making things. The things that conspired to make me think are Kirsty Hall encouraging people to make rubbish, Kirsty again, working with kids on an art project, advice to writers (which I read obsessively because a. I can't write and I read a great deal so I am riveted by the process by which people produce these books I love and b. creativity is creativity and no advice should go unconsidered) which is worth reading the comments to as well, and this iphone wallpaper which just makes me laugh.

In 2007 I made a fabric postcard almost every day. That project started this blog. That time was  transformational, in a couple of ways.

Focus: Until I started the postcard project, I had no particular focus. I had a lot of different materials, I tried many many different processes, and I never got much better at any of them. Once I'd defined my parameters (size, materials, work from stash) I realized I preferred working with fabric and thread, on the sewing machine. Having that knowledge, I started to develop my own process and vocabulary.

Practice: Daily practice makes you better. At anything. Any sport, any art, any process – if you practice, you will improve. Having improved, your range expands, and the things you can do are closer.

Making mistakes: I made 330 fabric postcards. Of those, 20 are really outstanding. Another 30 or so are pretty good. 150 are completely mediocre. 130 are truly dreadful and I have hidden them away and will not show them to anyone. And a surprising set of 15 are the sparks; those objects that started me in a particular direction that has opened out into an astonishing body of work. The most interesting thing about the sparks? They are drawn almost equally from the outstanding and truly dreadful. The best and the worst things that I did in a year. Not from the mediocre. Not from the pretty good.