Smack Your Art Around Like Billiard Balls

I admit. Not that good at playing pool. I intend for such-and-such a ball to rocket into a certain pocket, only to get both ricocheting around the table. My most favorite part is the initial shot where the cue ball cracks into the perfectly aligned solid and striped balls, sending everything scattering across the green velvet.

What makes the game interesting is precisely this element of chance. The different balls interacting with each other to create controlled chaos. 

How does this relate to art? Far too often we think we know where our drawing, novel, or song is going. We plan out all the steps in advance and follow them lock step. 

Except this sucks the element of chance out of the process? How interesting would a billiard game be if there were only the cue ball bouncing around the table? True, you could get it to do some interesting tricks, but there’s no interaction. No life. 

Far better to strive for the cause-and-effect action of a true pool game. Think about it. Your protagonist in a story needs to interact with other characters. They push and the other characters push back. Soon that carefully planned plot takes a back seat to the character’s own decisions.

The same can be true of visual art. I often scribble out a pencil sketch, thinking I have the finished product all thought out. Yet as I ink and color, the drawing takes shape. Sometimes it shoves me in new directions. Or I scrap the whole thing when a better idea comes along.

Again, the interaction of pen (digital or physical) with the white space can lead to some interesting ideas. Mistakes blossom into stunning curves or lines. Ones that could never be planned beforehand. 

Think of your art as a game of pool. When the balls scatter from a poor start, don’t be discouraged. See where the new pattern leads you. Let the cue ball of your intention smack into the other factors or your artform. Allow for push back and chance. This is what brings art to life. No one wants predictable stories or safe art.

Tim Kane

One thought on “Smack Your Art Around Like Billiard Balls

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