Mistakes are good. I once had a teacher tell me that there was no such thing as mistakes, only changes in plans. Believing this has served me well. The problem with mistakes is that, aside from the horror we feel when we think we just ruined our painting, is that we become myopic and so focused on fixing the mistake that we either beat the bejesus out of it or we consider the work a failure and walk away from it leaving it unfinished. Just before packing it up for the day the other day I had this brilliant idea to use gold paint and make the small “swirls” I had done when underpainting in to large swirls, thinking they would tie the painting together. They didn’t. Instead I felt they fractured it. I thought that in order to fix them I would have to paint over areas of the underpainting that I wanted to keep transparent. I forced myself to just set the painting up where I could see it all the time and live with it for a while before deciding what to do. I had to change my plans. What makes mistakes good is that they take us out of our comfort zones. Creative people are problem solvers and therefore mistakes stimulate creativity. We should learn to embrace them. I went about working on other areas of the painting until I had the idea of simply changing the color of the swirls to see if that would help. I also started tucking parts of them behind the foreground and in some areas behind the lavender background, so that they could enhance a feeling of dimension. Voila! I think it’s working! Now I’m moving forward again instead of obsessing over the mistake. It’s critical for artists to understand that the creative process is a symbiotic one between the artist and the thing that’s being creative. Once this concept is embraced, you start to work WITH your painting and not ON your painting. This symbiosis is the breath of life that turns a work of art in to a piece of your soul.