What do you do when you make a mistake? What if your whole final result looks like a mistake?
You could just get rid of it, throw it out of your sight and your life.
But you might be missing an opportunity. To experiment. To learn. To create something better out of something flawed and disappointing.
I didn’t like this collage I made. At. All.
Everything in it just seemed to compete. There was no focal point, no effective contrast or flowing pattern. It just looked bleh to me.
I wanted to throw it out.
But I decided to fool around with it, take it apart, find other ways to use the parts–maybe in a different way with different elements.
The glue wasn’t stuck so badly that I couldn’t remove the red, clashing segments. With that clashing gone, I was able to mess around with what was left, and create a better composition. And harmony.
Notice how your eye follows the lines up to the daffodils in the “near” corner. Better composition. I felt a lot better with that. And now the pallet consists of greens and yellows and beiges, and neutral black (and a little white) give the contrast. Much more serene.
Now what about the red pattern? I thought it would look much better on a background echoing some of the blues veined through it.
I found some in my junk mail stash. I especially liked the misty quality one page had when coupled with the red. But I didn’t have enough red to make a complete collage.
I was sure I had more of it somewhere. I remembered it was from a full-page ad for Turning Leaf wine, and was sure I’d kept what I hadn’t used.
Sure enough, there it was, in one of my file folders.
I kind of got carried away cutting out whimsical trees. But I like what I ended up with.
And that’s the important thing with collage. And with a lot of other things in life.
What do you do with your mistakes? Do you ever use them to produce something better?
sailvi …2 a : to travel… by action of wind upon sails… b : to move or proceed easily, gracefully, nonchalantly, or without resistance… vt1 a : to travel on by means of motive power (as sail) b : to glide through 2 : to direct or manage the motion of (as a ship)
This 31-Day challenge has surprised me—and not in the negative ways I expected it to (with hindrances, calamities, obstacles, illness, or some other stop sign(s) or hurdle(s). Which means this is a true and authentic surprise!
I never in my wildest dreams would have expected this journey to go as smoothly, gracefully, as it has, without all kinds of resistance.
I know, it’s not over yet. Six posts remain to write, edit, and publish before the month ends. Anything could happen. But so far, so amazing.
I think it’s worth pausing for the moment to reckon why this is. What made this voyage smooth and relatively easy up to this point?
First of all, I have to acknowledge that’s not been totally up to me. That’s where the word “gracefully” (from the definition above) comes in. This month, and this “trip,” have been full of grace.
2nd In connection with that, the wind of the Spirit, which is a flowing ofgrace amazing, is what filled and propelled my sails. Both factors #1 and #2 are Divine, not mine. So I begin my list with deep gratitude. (Thank You, good Heavenly Father!)
3rd The endeavor did need human directing and managing, however. I determined ahead of time that I would give at least some “sit time” to each rough draft, and edit each final draft before publishing. I also knew I’d be away and without internet for three days, so I’d need to pre-write three posts and schedule their publication for while I was gone.
4thPreparation for the journey ahead had taken place rather serendipitously, in that I’d already created most of the collages in meeting a challenge the month before.
5thRest periods for the sailor (me) made a lot of difference. Besides the weekend away, I allowed myself a Sabbath rest each week. Without that, I think I’d be burned out by now.
6th “Refueling” was also essential. Since the “fuel” of my vessel has been the wind of the Spirit of God in my sails, daily prayer, stirring up of scripture, and just spending time with God Himself kept me supplied.
7th Flexibility has been important, too, to take advantage of unhindered quiet times to write, to work around the trip away, to make allowances for stepping away from the work to get a breather and let my mind refresh. The order in which the posts are getting published has needed to alter here and there, also, as I’ve gone along.
8th Finally, confidence in the Captain of not just this journey but also my soul. Taking this on seemed to be His direction, and if I didn’t think I’d have Him present with me, I wouldn’t have wanted to venture into such a challenge.
Now the irony is that this particular post is getting finished later at night, closer to the day’s “deadline” than any other since the start. In fact, I was getting a bit of a block and didn’t know if I’d finish and publish it before tomorrow rolled around. So…
9th I think my pre-decision to be gentle and gracious to myself in such case actually kept me from freezing up and enabled me to finish, and publish.
About the collage construction: Once again, I used pictures of rugs and other house furnishings and decor, from junk mail. The clock had a solid white face, which I cut away with a craft knife, leaving just the numbers, lines, and clock hands. I don’t think I consciously realized how much my placement of the round top of the clock made it resemble a steering wheel and gave the impression of the viewer being at the helm of the boat—or the hours.
Eight women in a monastery guest house, down a country road from the monastery proper, each assigned her own separate room. They shared a dinner, then gathered for worship and information, and then they entered…
For thirty-six hours thereafter, they maintained and lived and soaked up that silence, solitary in their rooms or in and out of each other’s presence, giving a nod or a little wave of the hand and a smile, no one intruding in anyone’s way.
Some sat and read, some wandered the grounds, some hiked the woods and the river path. Some sat with Bible and notebook or journal spread on the desk in the hall or the picnic table outside. Some colored or doodled or painted. One or two plugged ear buds into their hearing and listened to calming, soothing music. Another few listened to breezes and bird-sounds out in the beautiful autumn weather and watched in a sort of reverie as golden leaves cascaded from tall trees, catching light as they fell, while in the blue background long v’s of geese flapped and honked their hearts out, on the first lap of their long journey toward winter warmth and light.
Eight women shared a kitchen and a dining room, various sitting areas in parlors and sunrooms and porches, and odd bath and shower and “powder” rooms through the house. Each cooked her soup or toasted her bread or brewed her tea or assembled her sandwich without a spoken word.
And it was good. Good to be free from the tyranny of the urgent, the strings of the internet, the interrupting ring of the telephone which must be answered if your business is at home and you live in it and “never go home from work.” Good to be guarded from all intrusion and disruption of sweet and solitary communion with God, even in the company of others.
So, it was enough, just that, and something to be grateful for when we came together for worship and sharing just before noon on the last morning.
But then God…
broke it all wide open!
And hearts were moved, and tears flowed and choked up testimonies, and the Kleenex box got passed around, and eyes blinking tears shown through with joy, and new bonds formed that will not easily be broken. And eight women requested an email list…
To share more words
born out of wordlessness
with Him who is The Word.
Women shared their darkness that day—and how their Light broke through. How appropriate, then, the collage for today.
And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. -John 1:5
PS. He also works all things together in astounding ways. I said at this post’s beginning that eight women came together. But it wasn’t really that simple. The last two only ended up there by strange and wacky happenings, coincidences, last minute opportunities, and, clearly, the intervening and provisioning hand of God. And without the presence of those two attendees, none of the “breaking open” would have happened. Further evidence to support the truth of the cited scripture verses above. A phenomenal weekend!
I want to show you the book I’ve already started altering for my next collage series—
For two reasons:
1- Some parts of the above collage came out of this very book (at least one of the quotes, and the leaf pictures—probably tea leaves, because the book now called “Taking Time” was formerly “Taking Time for Tea.” I included the other collage pictures from elsewhere because they seem to fit with the Thoreau quote, representing varied “regions,” or even worlds.
Since I plan to use mixed media in this volume, I needed to remove pages to give room for the extra bulk that will create. As I did, words and images attracted my attention and told me they’d make good “stash” for future projects.
2- I want to get another project going BEFORE I finish the one I’m actively engaged in.
Does that sound like a “crazy idea”? Stick with me. There’s purpose in this madness.
It’s true that starting several projects when you’re already doing one, or trying to carry on ten or fifteen already-begun projects at the same time can just end you up in a cluttered, chaotic workspace and confused state of mind—with maybe nothing getting finished! Yet a dismal thing often happens if you don’t line up some new creative effort before you finish the old.
Writers often report that the completion of a book they’ve been working on for months or years feels strangely like “a kind of death.” What often confronts them, instead of a feeling of freedom to start fresh on something new, is a great, big mental chasm with a formidable barrier labeled, “Dead End!”
A similar thing happens to artists. Once the project or series is finished, suddenly the mind seems to go as blank as the new canvas or page in front of the face and the artist feels lost and without purpose.
Some clever creatives have figured out a preventive to use before reaching that point:
Start thinking ahead:
Just take time now and then to brainstorm ideas and note them in a notebook or file, or write short prompt cards and place them in some handy receptacle.
Daydream, like Thoreau says in the collage above: “Direct your mind inward, and you’ll find a thousand regions of your mind, yet undiscovered. Travel them.”
Go through junk mail or magazines and tear or cut out “new” tidbits that catch your fancy: faces, objects, words, colors, textures, whatever. Separate the ones that “grab you” most, to consider further in the near future.
Rifle through the stash you already have and see what “grabs your heart” there.
“Break” a blank page or two by slapping some gesso or paint or random scraps of texture on them, as I did in the former “tea” book.
From all of the ideas this activity has conjured, select one, definite or vague, and gather materials and components into a container specifically for that.
Some creatives (wisely) like to do the above in two phases,
1) the brainstorming or idea gathering preliminary, and
2) starting some initial “work” (play) in the narrowed-down project.
All this helps prevent the great blank page or canvas, and writer’s block or artist’s dead end. I think it could be very helpful in just about any area of human endeavor.