A 2-ounce feathered thief recycles my work for her own.
Like many artists, I hate most of what I do. I will start out with great enthusiasm, craft a piece for hours or days, worry over each brush stroke, each last detail and then, realize I hate every single drop of paint. My rational mind knows that there is no such thing as a wasted artistic experience. My logical mind tells me that even if I didn’t come up with something I liked, the process is important. I acknowledge I always learn something, either technical or emotional, from each time I try to create something. But those considerations always seemed to take a back seat to the reality that I HATE what I made, and it was a colossal waste of time. At least that was true until yesterday.
Sometime last month I had been working on a piece, sitting outside enjoying the sunshine and the birds chirping. I had taken one of Josh’s photos, and was coloring over the top of it. And as so often happens, I tore it up at the end, lamenting the hours of my life I will never get back.
Apparently though, not all the pieces of torn up art made it to the trash can — some floated away in the breeze — and turned up somewhere amazing.
This is our most recent hummingbird mother, (Pic #1) sitting stoically atop the nest she painstakingly built to shelter her eggs. It is made of leaves, and twigs, using spider webs for glue. But look closely and you can see that there is something else. (Pic #2) Mama bird somehow found the scraps of my discarded art, and used them to help build her nest.
I know it’s silly, but when I saw this it finally made sense to me. No artistic endeavor is ever wasted. Ever. The end result may not be what we had in mind, but as artists, we don’t always get to choose how something we create is interpreted, judged, or used.
Maybe this little story won’t help you next time you spend hours on something that winds up committed to the trash heap. But I think from here on, I will consider the long game when approaching my art, my life — when a tiny scrap of paper can become the foundation for a much bigger project, in a way smaller world.