Here’s the Encyclopedia Britannica definition
5 Ways to Encourage Serendipity in ArtI say 5 ways but these are just the tip of the iceberg. Think of this as stimulus to get you generating your own enticement for serendipity in art.
Build Up Your Image in LayersLayers are a very ubiquitous art technique; they are used in many traditional styles and are ingrained in art software. To invite serendipity through using layers apply your early layers in an expressive way. As you add each new layer try to respond to the layer beneath, choosing what to keep and what to obscure. You can continue this process until either the canvas suggests a subject to you or it fits with your planned subject in an unexpected way. It’s worth checking out Flora Bowley if you’re interested in the potential of this strategy. The process can be hugely therapeutic as it engages all of your attention in making marks and then thinking about them in a creative way.
Draw/Paint Something Without Looking at Your CanvasThis is a great technique as you just don’t know exactly what you are going to get. It is especially good with self portraits as it helps to reduce self consciousness and the results can help you step back from any attachment to your own image. The results can be very interesting to look at because of how unintentional they are. If you find it difficult at first you can allow yourself you look at your work each time you need to reposition your pencil. As an extra twist you can do the exercise without removing your pencil from the paper. I would suggest redoing the exercise, possibly from different angles to your subject until you serendipitously get a result you’d like to develop into a full piece.
Work on Multiple PaintingsBy working on multiple paintings you can help your mind become less attached to any one of them. This can help you see each more clearly. It can also help you to see each in different ways that are somewhat influenced by the last painting you worked with and in this way you invite serendipity in to your process.
Work LooselyWorking loosely is very popular as it allows much more expressive marks to be made. By working loosely you quieten the voice of the controlling part of your brain that likes to measure exactly. Because of this reduced control unexpected results can occur. Of course they may not be to your liking but there is the chance of a serendipitous effect. I think it’s a question of process here as to how you are able to deal with/correct/cover over marks that you don’t like. This then will free you up to invite more serendipity into your art.
Write Techniques on SticksA fun way to add spontaneity and the opportunity for serendipity is to write techniques and materials on pop sticks and then choose a stick without looking. Effectively, you are bringing random constraints into your work that can enhance creativity and bring unexpected results. Each time you choose a stick you have to determine how best the instruction on it will work with the piece you have so far. Again you may not always have success but it could be worth the risk.
An art journal is a great place to try out the above strategies and can be an important tool in your artist’s experimentation towards finding a unique voice.
I hope this post inspires you in your artists journey and you benefit from much serendipity in art. Hugs, Ceri xx