Artsy’s Alexxa Gotthardt combed through interviews with legendary abstract expressionist artist Lee Krasner for her insights into “how to be an artist“. The packed-with-insight-wisdom piece stresses the importance of persistence, spontaneity, failure, and risk through three essential lessons.

We were most moved by Lesson #3: Revisit Failed Work. Krasner gives a powerful example of how she stumbled on her unique, beautiful torn paper collages by accident:

I did a batch of drawings, I had them pinned up in the whole studio, I went in one day, I hated them, and I tore them all up and threw them on the floor. When I went into the studio again, which was several days later, they looked pretty good that way.

This seems to be a work process of mine: I’m constantly going back to something I did earlier, remaking it, doing something else with it, and coming forth with another more clarified image possibly.

Krasner delighted in discovery and the unexpected, two aspects essential to her art and life:

I insist on letting it go the way it’s going to go rather than forcing it.

The minute you begin to say it can’t do this and it’s got to do that and it can’t do the other, well, it’s pretty boring stuff. And you’re certainly not allowing for discovery of any kind. You’re cutting that source quickly.

Collection Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York, Gift of Roy R. Neuberger, 1969.01.16 © 2015 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Photo: Jim Frank Courtesy American Federation of Arts

Miraculous things happened when “you aren’t rigid with some fixed idea before you go into your studio of what a painting should be…because it seems to take all the joy out of living.”

With thanks to Lisa Morphew for sending this our way.

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