What are scraps of crap?

Scraps of crap are all the things we have the most fun creating. The idea with a scrap of crap is to capture the sketchy energy of drawing (or creating anything) without the pressure to turn it into a masterpiece.

How many times have you sat down to draw (or write, or compose, or do anything) with all your tools neatly lined up in a row, and the light adjusted just so, and everything just “perfect” in every respect — and then you stared at the paper and nothing came out?

I call this the “tyranny of the blank paper,” in honor of my first art mentor, John Arthur Williams. John used to sit with us in his studio with a ream of blank paper in his lap, and while he talked, he’d systematically crumple a brand-new sheet into a ball and throw it into the corner of the room. Over and over, crumple, throw, crumple, throw, as we watched in disbelief.

“You’re wasting paper,” one of us said; it could have been me, but I’m not sure. John shrugged and crumpled another ball. “Paper’s cheap,” he said. “You shouldn’t be afraid to waste it.”

The lesson was that artists shouldn’t feel like everything they make has to be a museum-quality masterpiece. Playing with technique, working out a composition, or just sketching with no aim in mind is an integral part of the creative process. It helps your mind feel out its strengths and weaknesses. It’s hitting the gym for your creative spirit.

With that in mind, the scraps of crap on this site are a collection of just that — crap that you’d never hang on a wall, but which nonetheless contains a spark of fun, of energy, even of grace that’s sometimes hard to find in more “finished” work. After all, when you’re doodling on an envelope, there’s no reason not to play around as much as you like — you were gonna throw the envelope away anyway.

With that in mind, I’ll be posting doodles and sketches of mine, both current and from the past, as well as those from various contributors. I hope you enjoy them!

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