The Fix Is In!

Yesterday I wrote about correction as part of any artistic endeavor. One thing I don’t like is being told I can’t erase or fix. For example, with Zentangle, the philosophy of “There are no mistakes” is a bit hard to swallow. The idea behind this philosophy seems to be that mistakes should be viewed as opportunities and mistakes should be incorporated as part of the finished piece, either through acceptance of a flaw or by allowing the error to send the endeavor in a new direction. Acceptance of this philosophy is a great way to allow oneself to move on quickly. I appreciate this sentiment, but sometimes–depending on one’s purpose or desired outcome or personal handicaps–correction is necessary.

This morning, I revisited a Zentangle tile I created last evening. As I was slipping the tile into my new tile album, I noticed a glaring error in shading, specifically how the shadow fell in the wrong direction–and too strongly–on one part of the work. The needed correction involved a light touch of the eraser and the redrawing of one small line, but I felt a strong need to fix the problem. 

The leftmost tile (or first, depending on how your browser displays it) is the original while the more right-justified tile is the corrected version. 

Some people will see no difference. Others will immediately see where a bit of erasing, redrawing, and smoothing was done.

Here is the thing: It doesn’t matter to me if no one else sees the difference. The shading was an oversight last night, but was eye-catching enough this morning that I noticed it without actually looking closely at the piece. After all, I was merely storing my work. 

When I write, it often takes me a re-reading on a different day to see my grammatical, spelling, or “automated correction” errors. There are several posts currently on my blog site in which errors are not my own but those of the software. Sometimes, I have a strong desire to edit and repost. Sometimes I follow up on this desire. Often, when the software is the culprit and correction seems to have been generated after I hit the Publish button, I cannot even begin to imagine what I had meant to say–that is how much the software has corrupted my words. Less often than I would like, I edit by either removing the offending phrase or sentence, or trying to recreate the words I intended to be there. 

Software generated errors are not my mistakes, and they often don’t even show up in Preview mode. Therefore, these are not part of my own creative process or carelessness. They offer no “opportunities for new direction,” or things to “let go of.” And the fact that they appear in a blog focused on my own writing development… well, these errors are also embarrassing. 

The same can hold true for my drawing. When an error is made because my concentration lapsed, or I was in a hurry, or the drawing conditions were far from optimal, or my hand shook, it is hard to accept and move on. If the mistake isn’t caught immediately, it can’t be incorporated as part of the piece’s development. Thus, to me, it needs correction. Period. 

When it comes to Zentangling, personal preparation is part of the ritual, just as preparation for any meditative process is essential. However, lapses occur, or the environment changes (the sun no longer shines through the window; or it has gotten dark enough to require artificial lighting; or the cat just slid into my elbow), or any number of things can happen to disrupt the planned or developing art. Sometimes, a shift in perspective simply escapes us while we are in the zone of creation. Many times, such shifts or unexpected (and uncontrollable) “enhancements” can be accepted; other times, the results need to be fixed or, in the worst cases, discarded. 

Well, not necessarily discarded as in destroyed. Maybe “set aside” is the better way to handle something that is not shareable. There are always uses for failed art works: scrap paper, reminder of what not to do again, elements to be copied for subsequent pieces, etc. 

Maybe I am just too hard on myself, but I don’t think so. 

Personally, I really like the philosophy that tells me there are no mistakes. For starters, it allows for the art form to take a new direction. This is equally true for my drawing and my writing. But sometimes errors will stop me in my tracks, no matter the effort I make in moving beyond the mistake. I need to be able to accept that some things need to be set aside forever. 

This particular tile was easily salvageable to my current level of satisfaction. It may be far from perfect, but it is now acceptable to me in its imperfect state. So for this tile, the fix is in.

Happy creating!

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About DrEMiller

Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT). Home: Sint Maarten. K-12 teacher for 13 years (Special Education for 10 years); Post-secondary educator since 2002; Education consulting since 1995. When teaching, held teaching certificates in K-12 special education, reading specialist; and secondary social studies. Doctorate: Educational Psychology Programmer/analyst for 10 years, including project management and training of corporate execs.
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