Let Go of Expectations with Make Bad Art


I have often said — in my head at least, if not out loud — that I think creativity is the thing that makes people human. We all have a desire to make things, to use or imaginations, to control our worlds in ways that (at least most) animals can’t.

Whether being creative means making up stories, making quilts, cooking dinner, altering clothes or something else entirely, it’s essential to have some kind of creative outlet to live life fully. picasso creativity art

But at the same time a lot of people don’t consider themselves creative. They’ll say “oh, I’m not crafty” when they see something someone else has made. “I could never do that.”

Really that’s just a way to let themselves off the hook for trying something they might be really bad at.

But even if you’re bad, that doesn’t mean it also can’t be really good. Host a collaborative art party with Make Bad Art.

That’s the premise behind the book Make Bad Art by Steve Ewing and Robin Varni. This brief book, available in iBooks, explains how to throw a collaborative art party, meaning a gathering where friends get together and each work on a series of canvases, making art without judgement and with lots of fun.

The book explores why such a thing is a good idea: making art is fun, social, relaxing and a great bonding experience. It can be a fun way to throw a different kind of party for a housewarming, wedding or going-away party, and everyone can leave with a piece of art an maybe a little more creative confidence.

There need to be ground rules, of course, and they suggest starting the canvases before the party starts and choosing a theme and colors for each canvas to give guests something to work with. Making it abstract can be helpful, too, because guests then won’t try to make it “look like something.”

The book covers how to plan an art party, where to set up, what supplies to get and how much, how to get the canvases started, what kinds of food to serve (things on sticks so you don’t have to worry about painty hands) and how to actually conduct the party.

It sounds like a lot of fun with the right group of friends (probably not including the “I could never do that” lady).

Why Bad?

There are lots of examples of finished canvases in the book, and I’ve got to say, none of them look bad or ugly.

flower art
My “bad” art, made on a piece of cardboard with gesso and paint applied with a stick and my fingers.

Honestly using the word bad in the title of this book really turned me off. I get that the idea is to create art without expectations, to get people into the mindset that it doesn’t have to be good.

But really to me any act of creation is good, even if the end result isn’t that pleasing. Putting the effort and creativity into making something should always be praised, even if the label of bad isn’t meant in a bad way. And I’m sure the authors would agree with me.

What do you think? Does the word bad to you imply intentionally ugly? Or does it just mean you’re free to be bad, but also to be good? Would you host or attend an art party like this? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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