4. Striving For Imperfection

Dear Sade,

Have you ever looked at a painting that is all 'wrong' and yet, inexplicably, you loved it? You thought to yourself "Wow, this painting is so wrong that it's right!" This may seem to be contradictory but it's not, because you are simply admiring the beauty of 'intentional imperfection' in art... and this is only one of the enigmatic things about the creative process that makes it better than a ride on the Spaceship Enterprise. When I first started painting I really got hung up in pursuing the illusive pearl called Perfection without knowing at the time that, ironically, it was seriously hampering my art. There was a neon-light in my head that flashed: "It has to be perfect... It has to be perfect...It has to...." . Eventually I managed to break the light by doing some crazy things, as you will read later. When the light was destroyed I could relax, yes, relax into a style of painting that had evaded me because it was blocked by 'The Wall of Imaginary Perfection.' When you were five years old, we shared a fluffy toy dog - I called him 'Gauguin' and you called him 'Tenderheart'. As I sit and paint he looks down at me from the wall. Above his head is a big speech bubble stuck to the wall. It reads: "Relax...you have my full permission not to be perfect in your paintings, O.K.? I view this toy dog as a ventriloquist sees his dummy - it is me talking to myself with a daily affirmation that in painting 100% perfect can be 100% boring. I am of the school that believes a painting should look like a painting with it's own spirit, life, character and yes, imperfections. During the Renaissance an artist could paint a flower so realistically that a bee would alight on the canvas. Today we have the camera. Sade, remember that perfection can destroy spontaneity and in painting, spontaneity is the very essence of creativity.

Love Gramps
October 1998