When Bad Art is Good

Words "When Bad Art is Good" stamped on mixed media background

The creative process has been on my mind a lot lately, as it tends to be when I’m feeling stuck. Blocked. Empty.

For a couple of weeks now, every time I’ve sat down at my art table, I’ve stared into space and wondered what on earth to make.

So I sat down to consider what was going on behind the scenes, and when I took a good hard look at the thoughts I was letting swirl around in my mind, what I found was fear.

Fear of bad art.

So I started flipping through old art journals to see what I could learn about my process.

That’s how I stumbled upon this piece…

Mixed media journal painting

It’s bad.
Obviously.
I thought it was bad then…
And I think it’s worse now .
(My skills have definitely been growing.)

But it was precisely this thought process lead me to the question…

When is bad art good?

I stared at this journal page asking myself this question over and over, and this is what I landed on…

How can art be bad if it’s gotten you to put paint on paper?
How can art be bad if you’ve been working/making/expressing yourself?

It’s easy to get lost in all of the beautiful images we find as we scroll Instagram.

It’s easy to compare ourselves to everyone else’s best work.  

I imagine every artist has a big stack of “bad art” that sits in the dark somewhere never to be seen. I know that my art journals are full of things I don’t show to anyone, except of course for the times like this when I use them to illustrate a point.

So when is bad art good?

Without that stack of “bad art” there would be no masterpieces. All of our work, from the stuff we’re embarrassed to have made to the stuff that leaps off of the page and into our hearts, every last bit of it is good.