October 23, 2012

Happy Accidents

What I got when my camera lens didn't open all the way.

I had this drawing professor in college who smelled bad. Really bad. Like a homeless person.
It was torture when he came over to look at your work. I wore turtlenecks spritzed with  Naim so I could pull the neck up over my nose and mask the odor.
He was a good teacher despite his aversion to washing.  He was always having us look at what we were drawing, not the drawing itself. "Have your pencil follow your eyes," he'd tell us. "Don't worry about what your drawing looks like."
He also talked about 'happy accidents.' That was when you made a mistake that ended up inspiring you. Like lines that were wrong, but still interesting. More interesting than lines that were right.
'Happy accidents' always stuck with me—even though I didn't pursue a career in art.  When I write a first draft of a short story, I look at what I'm writing about (in my mind's eye) and not what's on the paper—misspellings, words used incorrectly, crazy sentences. Sometimes I end up with happy accidents. Maybe it's the way I phrased something or two very different images that I merged into something fresh.
And now I'm finding that happy accidents happen in soap. Colors don't come out the way I expect, layers aren't straight,  fragrances morph—and they end up being more interesting and beautiful than what I had intended.
I'd love to meet up with that professor again and tell him how important his 'happy accidents' have been to me. I'd also give him a bar of soap.