Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Luck is a skill

I’ve been re-reading Twyla Tharp’s book “The Creative Habit” and one of the things she says is that “luck is a skill.” This phrase got me thinking about my own tug-of-war between control and abandon in my artwork (and in my life?).

Tharp says that while an artist needs to be prepared in order to make good art, she also needs to be open to happy accidents. In the words of E.B. White, habitually creative people are “prepared to be lucky.”

Accepting the idea of luck in life can be hard for those of us determined to control our destinies. The idea of control is comforting – it is in our power to make things as we want them to be. Luck is seemingly random, chaotic, and disorderly.

Tharp says that you have to be present to recognize a stroke of luck – that is showing up, regularly, working at your craft. Furthermore, it requires a person who is skilled at their craft to see a stroke of luck for what it is.

In my artwork I like to believe that I am the controller. If I just create the right conditions, have the right mindset, focus on one particular aspect of my drawing and painting, my creative output will be just as I want it to be.

But accepting the randomness inherent in the creative act is freeing. If I don’t have to take full responsibility for every aspect, every line, every color, every shape, I can relax and have fun. Who knows what will arise if I am open to a world of possibilities?