Becoming an Imperfection Detective – Make Your Mark excerpt

This post is excerpted from my Make Your Mark ecourse for the creatively blocked, frustrated, or terrified, which is enrolling now! Come on over and take a look.

``There is no real beauty without some slight imperfection.`` - James Salter

I don't like things that are too perfect.

I find the most beauty in things which are a bit messed up - wobbly things, messy things, wonky things, even broken or decaying things. I find true soul in the cracks. I can relate much more easily to imperfect things, they speak to me on a very human level. And I have realised that 'imperfections' make these broken, wobbly things perfect to me.

A few examples:

Photo by Lars Mølgård Nielsen

Have a look at this tiled wall in Lisbon, Portugal. How do you feel when you look at it? Grab your journal and jot down the first few thoughts that pop into your head.

Can you see how breathtaking it is? Does the image conjure up the years of history this wall has witnessed? Or the myriad people who must have sat on those benches and talked? The lovers who made promises there. The friends who reunited there after wars had separated them. Deals made, secrets shared, laughter enjoyed.

Or, would you prefer to see a nice, neat, unbroken surface? Fresh as the day it was first tiled?

Okay, I know I'm leading you with these questions. So let's look at some more examples - what about old gravestones, covered in lichen and weathered by time?

No one can say that trees aren't gorgeous - but look closely and you'll find all sorts of knots, dead branches and old leaves, bug infestations, or even disease. None of this detracts from their beauty. In fact, it could be argued that this only increases their beauty.

Today’s exercise :: Finding perfection in the imperfection

Obviously the examples I have used above are deeply personal to me - they are things that I find beautiful, despite their imperfections.

For today's exercise, I want you to hunt out the things that you find perfect, and scour them objectively for imperfections.

Take yourself out for a walk. This works best if you have a camera with you (the one on your phone will do nicely). As you're wandering round enjoying your walk, I want you to snap a picture of everything that catches your eye - everything you think is beautiful.

You might see beautiful people, buildings, flowers or trees. Your attention might be caught by a painting in a gallery window, or a stunning view. It could even be a lovely car that passes you by, or a cat on a windowsill.

Whatever it is, and it really doesn't matter, take a quick picture. When you get home, study each one of your pictures in great detail, and analyse exactly what it is about that thing that you find beautiful (as always, it helps to write this down in your journal).

Next, I want you to think about whether or not you would call it 'perfect'. What is this mystical 'perfection' that you are seeking in your own artwork? Does it exist in the thing that you've just proved to yourself is beautiful?

What imperfections can you find in your photographs? Do they add to or detract from the beauty, or the 'perfection' of your experience with that person or object?

``Where there is perfection there is no story to tell.`` - Ben Okri

Dig deeper

Have a look at these fabulous artists playing with the idea of the beauty of imperfection:

I hope you've enjoyed this taste of Make Your Mark - if you'd like more information, or to sign up for the course, it is currently open for enrollments. You can find all the information here.

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