A faux pas is an embarrassing act or remark in a social setting.  It’s happened to us all and we quickly learn not to do it again.

The difference between a faux pas and a mistake is huge – humungous – because mistakes can be the best thing that can happen to an artist.

Mistakes are a totally different dish, not to be sneered at or looked down upon – ever.  Because sometimes, just sometimes, mistakes are simply where the magic in our work begins to happen.

Who of us hasn’t, for instance, used a mistake as the basis for new work and gone on to make it successful?  I’m hoping each and everyone reading this blog has experienced this amazing phenomenon.  If not, then this post is definitely for you.

Mistakes can lead you down paths of discovery you could never imagine.  It’s like Alice falling down the White Rabbit’s hole – you have no idea where you’re going to end up, but it’s a pretty exciting ride while it lasts.

Don’t forget though, that fall takes Alice to Wonderland.

What’s happening is that your creative mind simply has to take over to ‘rectify’ that anomaly.  Your brain is searching, searching for answers, for solutions, for ideas – in every nook and cranny of your experiences and imagination.  Hello, that’s a good thing.

Hopefully, if the mistake’s a good one – and sometimes they’re not, but if you can spot just a glimmer of possibility then I suggest you run with it till it’s resolved one way or another, because this may just be your Wonderland moment.  You may have just hit the jackpot.

Your creative mind’s in control – just let it be.  That’s the magic.  Travel as far as you can with it.  Explore, engage, take your time.

Look at your mistakes as stepping stones offering a wider choice of different, exciting pathways – what artist doesn’t want that?  Learn from them and learn to love them.

Some should never be repeated, and I have plenty in that category, believe me, but it’s those few little gems that can elevate your work, your technique even your style.  They’re the ones to run with.

May your work be littered with rabbit-holes and Wonderland moments – those precious times when for whatever reason, we make a mistake!

cathy jack coupland