Why I Learned to Make Ugly Art

by Lydia Makepeace

What if I told you that making ugly art was the only way to be a good artist? You’d probably give me a funny look and inform me that good artists make beautiful art and that’s what makes them so great. Well I’m going to share a secret with you...

“Ugly Painting” by  Lydia Makepeace

“Ugly Painting” by Lydia Makepeace

Good Artists Make Bad Art

It’s true! Good artists make bad art. Why would they do that? Because good artists know that you can’t make any good art unless you’re making art. And when you’re making art there’s going to be a lot of bad art along with the good and even great art. 

Art making and creativity are a process and part of that process involves making mistakes. Mistakes can be ugly, beautiful, interesting, terrible, accidental, intentional, infuriating and insightful. Often I learn more from a mistake filled, ugly, overworked painting than from my best most beautiful paintings. Beautiful paintings are a result of lessons learned from the mistakes and ugly paintings that came before.

Here’s another secret...

Good Artists Make Art

To be an artist you need to make art. Seems simple enough right? Simple concept maybe, but excruciatingly difficult to do at times.

I was going through one of those difficult times recently. Fear that nobody liked my work or would want to buy it was setting in. (Another secret - All artists experience fear.) One of the best things I’ve found to do in such times is reach out to another artist. So I emailed my good friend and fellow artist, Julia Hendrickson, to expose my anxious thoughts. (FYI - She’s a great artist!)

Julia gently reminded me that all you can do is make your art. Show up and work. That’s it. 

Good Artists Show Up [tweet this]

I’ve learned from other artists, and personal experience, that the key to making art is showing up daily. Even if it’s just to putter around the studio, sweep the floor or clean a brush. Making art and living a creative life are a daily practice. Don’t wait around for a moment of inspiration or till you “feel like it.” Procrastination will set in. You need to get some paint on that canvas and some words on that page.

Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. - Chuck Close // www.lydiamakepeace.com

Make an ugly painting, write a terrible first draft - just make sure it’s something! Nobody has to see it. Making ugly, terrible, no good, very bad art doesn’t make you a bad artist - it makes you an artist! Show up and get to work so when that flash of insight comes or an opportunity arises you are ready.

Go make some ugly art!