In the Middle East, intentional errors are woven into carpets because, it is said, only God can be perfect. Is Mother Nature perfect? That, I am sure, is a long discussion in itself.
Does our artwork need to be perfect? As a young man I thought so. Days were spent searching, hunting or creating that perfect photograph. A huge amount of effort and time was spent in this quest. As I aged, I let go. The older I become, the further away from this notion I get.
I realised that it is emotion that speaks louder than perfection. It is my left intellectual, logical brain seeking order and compartmentalisation. It likes everything to be neat and perfect. Unfortunately, I see it everywhere for we have let our rational thinking take over from intuition and emotions. It such an unfortunate plight that intuition has been seen as evil for so long.
When you tune into your emotions things get messy. I believe that is not only a good thing but something to be proud of and celebrate. Creative people often have messy studio spaces. They rejoice in being labelled as an emotional artist. Messy is now considered a sign of intelligence, because it’s how our creative brain works. It appears to be almost random, it plucks things out of here and there. It connects things that weren’t originally connected. It works holistically and spacially rather than in a linear fashion. Perfection is a linear concept. Unless we go into imperfect perfection. ;)
I eventually realised that I had to let go of perfection and aim for emotional connection. Removing tiny distractions removed much of the emotional gravity of the artwork. It would become synthetic and sterile. Striving for perfection was removing the work from its emotional roots.
I can see this photograph in front of many with a critical eye, them telling me to remove the distractions. If I did it may be more likely to score better in a competition. But I have to ask myself, what will I be removing?
Authenticy and honesty, but the main one is emotional connection with the place. I would be removing the rawness that lead me to taking the photograph in the first place.
It would also lose balance.
As I age, I no longer seek perfection, I seek emotional connection. To be honest, it is a much happier and fulfilling quest. The bonus is that there are more beautiful things to see and share and life isn’t as serious as I thought it should be.
I was knee deep in the bog, thanks Mark for the muck boots that kept my toes dry. The Lake District, UK. Photograph and text copyright © Len Metcalf 2018
Artist | Writer | Photographer | Educator | Adventurer