Saturday, September 1, 2012

Image of the Month: September

Serendipity.  The accident of finding something good while not specifically searching for it.  In other words, a "happy accident" or "pleasant surprise".  I experienced this chance encounter recently when capturing images along the beach of Lake Michigan.  More specifically I was focused on a cairn (towering stones forming a directional landmark) located at the water's edge.  With my iPhone I typically take two images of the same scene, one for highlights and the other for shadows, then merge the two for the best of both.  I must have been distracted between the two images and pointed the camera on a totally different scene altogether for the second image.  Still unaware of my slight of hand, I merged the two different scenes together and then discovered an effect that was more interesting and stunning than I initially intended.  Furthermore, I did nothing else, no magical apps to enhance the final outcome;  just merging the two separate images as one image.  In hindsight, the first image was focused on the Cairn structure and the second on the "polka dots" on the face of the large base rock supporting the cairn, thus the polka dots in the sky.

© 2012, Joanne Scherf
"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.  
Art is knowing which ones to keep." .... Scott Adams

So, yes there are situations when moments of serendipity happens and wonderful results occur.  I'm sure we could all share stories about our happy mistakes.  But instead of waiting for this happy and pleasant surprise can we as artists do something to encourage its frequency without jeopardizing its random forces?  In other words can planned happenstance be cultivated?  Just so happens, that Kathleen Miller has proposed a four-step process (that I've tweaked slightly) she advises her clients to enhance the possibility of serendipity to occur.
  1. Be curious
  2. Remove blocks
  3. Expect the unexpected
  4. Take action in the face of uncertainty
Basically the approach boils down to taking action in the face of uncertainty.  More importantly proceeding even when you don't know how it will turn out.  Random experimentation at its finest.  Making "mistakes" and "failures" and transforming them into new techniques or approaches is another step in one's artistic journey.

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