The Secret of “Not Knowing” vs. Indecision

I’m constantly delighted to be both a visual artist and a composer of music. It’s interesting how similar the creative acts of drawing, painting, and sound composition can be. Each project teaches me things both unique to the specific medium at hand and also surprisingly applicable across various media. This past year was one of struggle and introspection for me as an artist. Not surprisingly, it was also my most productive year to date. Hardship and struggle often yield lots of new work but also new lessons learned and techniques that can be taken forward into future projects. 

My work with palette knife and paint taught me something interesting this past year. I’ve always been keenly aware of the power of going into the creative act without knowing exactly what the outcome will be. All of my best work has been the result of “not knowing” and not forcing the outcome. However, there is a dangerous line between “not knowing” and indecision. In visual art, creating a line is one of the most important and sacred acts an artist can undertake. A poorly executed line (note that this does not necessarily mean a perfectly straight line) is one of the easiest ways to tell if an artist is struggling with indecision. While it is essential to remain in a state of “not knowing” for as long as possible, every individual line, brush stroke, melody, harmonic idea, must be made boldly and with great decisiveness. This combination of “not knowing” and decisiveness is, I feel, the true secret to creating great works of art. This does not, of course, mean that there isn’t an editing process; decisions can be reversed. But making tentative marks rarely leads to great compositions, and they certainly won’t help you find solutions in an efficient way.

So go boldly down the foggy path that your work reveals, embracing the unknown, but making each artistic decision confidently, and without regret.

Send this to a friend