The magic of happy accidents

I am not a morning person.


And yet here I was, at the crack of 9am on a dark, rain-lashed Sunday after a late night in London, chugging back a mug of instant coffee.


On the kitchen floor beside me was a workman’s toolbox, carefully packed with art materials.


These included charcoal, both willow and compressed. A tin of drawing pencils in an assortment of hardness grades, a selection of acrylic paints, a selection of brushes, some oil pastels, a couple of small bottles of ink and a box of coloured pencils.


Thus armed, I ventured forth and made my way to a pretty, period brick building in my home town, which contains some gorgeous art studios.


I was greeted at the door by Olivia. I noted with interest her long, egg-yolk yellow fingernails, and how each one was adorned with a little glittery jewel. Inside the studio were eight or so other artists, all nursing cups of tea, and Olivia rounded everyone up for a little into to her workshop – Abstract Life-drawing.


It wasn’t long before I was standing behind a paint-spattered easel, being asked to draw the model using only my non-dominant hand without looking at the drawing board.


‘The idea is that it will be impossible for you to create a perfect drawing,’ said Olivia as she strode about the room in her Doc Marten’s boots. ‘The point here is to get you to loosen up and really get involved in the process of drawing. Learn to trust your eyes and your hands. Remember that drawing is a process of happy accidents, and that’s good.’  


It was amazing to peek around the edge of the drawing board at the end of each exercise to see what had appeared there. Surprised delight was usually my response.


As I walked home after a long and tiring but fun day with a role of drawings under my arm, I thought about how getting involved in the process is something that could be applied to so many areas in life.  To take a step back from aiming to create something perfect, polished, flawless. Perhaps there are gems strewn along the journey that could end up outshining that idealised goal.