The breeze is gentle.
It would go unnoticed, if not for the barely perceptible tickle as it makes the hair on your neck sway and dance.
It is a hurricane.
A million ideas from a thousand sources hurtle through your mind, distill, congeal, evolve.
Here. Here is something new.
The phrase “Happy Accident” is entirely overused in the art world. In any case, it was when I was in art school. Of course, now that I look back, a lot of those utterances might have been ironic. Doesn’t matter, though. Still overused.
The only type of art where the phrase really applies is watercolor. At least at my skill level. Anytime the paint rearranged itself pleasantly, it was an accident. I’ve heard rumors of artists who can foresee and predict the flow of soppy pigment, but I never had that superpower. (Actually, my friend Johanna van der Sterre is amazing with watercolors, able to work with large blocks of colors in ways I’ve never seen before. Check her work out. It’s totally worth it, and totally on purpose).
Cut paper doesn’t allow for Happy Accidents.
Neither, I suppose do sculpture, wood carving, or most other arts performed at a professional level.
Serendipity, though. That’s another story.
Serendipity graces us and our work when experience gets a big hug from chance and happenstance, while preparation keeps a watchful eye.
You might be wondering what the difference is. Allow me to Illuminate.
An accident lacks intention and attention. Accidents can happen to anyone at any time. Winning the lottery is an accident. Being struck by lightning. Strolling absentmindedly along a sidewalk when the rope lifting the grand piano to the fifth floor snaps.
Serendipity is the knack for riding the flow of chance to a happy outcome. Its a talent, an ability, an aptitude.
There’s a great quote I’m having trouble finding in a Terry Pratchett novel which I can’t name at the moment, about the character Cohen the Barbarian and how very good he is at not dying in a wide variety of perilous situations. Mostly by not being where the pointy end of weapons are at any given moment. Not by dodging or avoiding them, which is a fool’s gamble. By simply being elsewhere.
Luck and fate are nothing more than a lifetime of experience internalized and etched so deeply into the marrow of your bones that they become a nearly supernatural skill. Abruptly stopping and bending down to pick up a penny (heads-up!), and narrowly being missed by the aforementioned piano is serendipity. Other people might think the dice rolled especially well for you. But you’ve been slowly loading those dice for years.
That is the true happy accident.
There are times when I think deeply about which papers to use, which section of the paper would serve best, how to turn it. Which piece of wood with which grain accentuates the paper best to communicate the concept or tell the story. There are also times when I don’t have to think about it, and everything simply lines up right.
Take, for example, our owl-faced friend here. He was originally more human looking. He evolved, without an overabundance of deep contemplation, to fit the theme. And that bubbly purple paper that makes him look a bit like a gummy bear? Much less flat than my original choice. Which for some reason just didn’t feel right. And that paper, in turn, inspired me to go back and re-draw the shape of the body to be rounder, and more Jell-o-ish. Gelatinous. All of which, somehow, just works.
At least I think so.
Illumination Comes In On the Breeze wafts into the shop for the first time today.