Turning the whoops into a happy accident

 Today’s post is all about trouble shooting your artistic creation when you think that a mistake that you’ve made dooms your painting to a tragic future in a trash receptacle. All right, I know that I could have just said “garbage can.” But I really like the word “receptacle.” It sounds like it’s ready to receive the rubbish.

Is that painting really rubbish if you’ve made a mistake?

Probably not.

Here are some of my experiences with the whoops factor:


I was drawing in a small Moleskine book that I keep in my purse for those moments when I’m away from home and I want to draw something.

That day, I was at my sister’s house. She has a really cute pillow with pictures of cats enbroidered into the pillow. I thought that would be a cool thing to draw. Then I thought… hmm, it needs darker lines than graphite pencil. So I started using a sharpie to give the picture more definition. “Hmmm,” I thought. “I wonder if that marker bled through to the other side of the paper.” Sure enough, it had. Ugh. I can’t get rid of that. It’s bled through. That is terrible. Then I thought, oh, what a cool printmaking technique. I’ve got two pictures for the price of one. So I added color to both pictures: the original and the “print.”


I went to a painting class at Stella Niagara a few years ago (pre-pandemic, of course). I was really attempting a looser style than I am used to but it kind of backfiring. The picture was becoming too loose and it looked like nothing at all. I was feeling very frustrated and I was ready to relocate the painting to the aforementioned trash receptacle when it was suggested that I use a sharpie and define the petals of the flowers and the leaves. I didn’t know how that would help. After all, the painting was ruined. Right? Wrong. 


My most recent self portrait is actually a series of self portraits. Me as balloon heads, flying away, being held as a bunch of balloons, me after the flying ability has left, floating on water. The last Alice as balloon head was not part of the painting before… (what else?)… I went crazy with a sharpie, as I tried to make some orange look even more orange. It looked atrocious. I had to find some way to cover up that Sharpie mess. So I added another balloon floating on the water. It was cool. It even looked intentional. Like I had originally meant for it to be there.

Art is an adventure. Experiment. Have fun. Don’t worry about the mistakes that you perceive in your work. There is a solution for every problem. And, who knows, you might end up with an incredible piece of art that came about by accident. A happy accident. 

3 thoughts on “Turning the whoops into a happy accident”

  1. That's so cute, Alice! You're right. Sometimes, what starts out as an accident or something gone wrong turns into something really good.

  2. these are all masterpieces Alice… I love your creativity – in your art and your blog.. it always inspires me to try to do more

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