Have you ever been so inspired by another artist that you wanted to be just like them? You look at their work and their lives and find it so easy to put them up on a pedestal, assuming that the secret to their wild success came easily. In reality, if you had the opportunity to quiz one of your idols as to the secrets of their success you would likely get a simple explanation, something like “the harder I work, the luckier I get”.
The truth is, the path to serendipity is lined with repetition. Showing up to work day after day after day means picking up the brush or the pen even when we don’t feel like it. It means sitting down at the piano for long stretches of time, training the hands to become one with the ear. It means having the camera with you at all times, and using it. Showing up to work means a constant and deliberate thought about your craft throughout each day and a sub conscious attentiveness to it in your dreams each night.
If there is a “secret” to achieving great art it is this. Occasionally the monotony of repetition is interrupted by the unexpected. Perhaps the slip of the musician’s hand produces a half note of melodic genius or perhaps a wet mixture of paint drips down the canvas in just the right way. If we’re paying attention to these fortuitous occurrences we often find that we end up repeating them, they become our signature of originality. It is the happy accidents that become the milestones that mark our creative journey.
Note: We just returned from a three night visit to Santa Fe for our 15th wedding anniversary. For this shot, I was set up on the tripod and the very first frame came out very strange and very cool. I have no idea how this happy accident happened but I can I’ll keep studying it until I figure it out.