Destruction and Risk Taking

“The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.”
Mikhail Bakunin

Have you ever wanted to destroy something you've created?  Have you ever gotten to the point of  being completely done with a painting or sculpture?  It happens.  We, as artists, get to the point that we're through with what we've created; we don't like it and it's not working, so we want to destroy it.  As Mikhail Bakunin states that the destructive urge...  'is also a creative urge' (granted, he was a revolutionary anarchist but his statement is true). It is part of the creative process.  So many times we think that we shouldn't destroy what we've created.  But that urge, that part of the process can be very cleansing, very illuminating.  It gets rid of that which is holding us back or hindering us to go to the next level or place in our artistic journey.  
Destruction also gives the artist the opportunity to take risks.  Risks are essential to creating for they allow the artist to delve into areas that are new and helps create a new language for their work.  Whenever an artist holds back from taking risks, the work suffers.  It is obvious within the work.  It is better to completely destroy a painting/sculpture than it is to avoid taking risks. Playing is safe within art makes it doomed to fail or at best, become mediocre.  All great artists took risks, whether it was through subject matter, technique, or style.  Artists that broke the 'mold' were innovators, creating new and original works that spoke. 
Destroying our works allows us to build something new from the remains of the old.  It allows us to start over, taking new risks, forming new ideas, and ultimately creating works with freshness and spontaneity.  It gives the artist a new chance to express her/himself.  It allows for new beginnings. It allows the process to teach us and guide us into new territory.  The mediums that we work in also guide us and lead us within our process.  Taking risks and destroying part or all of the work allows us to take chances that we might not have thought to take.  We learn to create without fear for fear holds us back and prevents us from exploring within our process.  Fear is the enemy of art. 
So we shouldn't be afraid of destroying works that just don't work at all or part of the work in order to grow.  We need to allow the process to guide us and lean into what we don't know in order to find something new. We can learn to trust the process so we ultimately learn to trust ourselves. We then can learn to be free when we create.  

Susan M Gibbons
Stirring Series 13
Acrylic on Canvas


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