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The Artist's Journey & The Adjacent Possible- Nancy Hillis MD

The Artist’s Journey & The Adjacent Possible- Nancy Hillis MD

The Adjacent Possible


The sine qua non of being an artist is experimentation- it’s about continually evolving your art.


Every move you make on your canvas creates the next possibility.


The evolutionary concept of the adjacent possible is analogous to what happens to you on your artist’s journey.

Another way to think of this is to imagine that the act of moving forward creates a new set of next steps that would’ve been difficult or impossible to predict beforehand.

Like a sequence of treasure maps where each map guides you to a place where a new map is hidden.

Now imagine that your act of searching not only allows you to find the next map, it creates it!

It’s the next step- the adjacent possible- to your emerging work and it’s vital to you as an artist.

Just as in reading a book, what keeps you reading is not knowing what’s coming next and wanting to find out how it all turns out.



Searching & Finding Your Way In Your Painting


One way to think about being an artist is that you’re exploring and experimenting continuously. You’re stepping into the place of not knowing, into the terra incognita.

You’re searching and finding your way as you create.

You don’t know ahead of time what’s going to happen in your painting.


If I already know what’s going to happen, it’s all over.

-Michael Cutlip


This is not about following a recipe for your art. It’s not about laying a Cartesian grid over your work.

This approach is the antithesis of formulaic, predictable art.


Experimentation is about embracing uncertainty


It’s a wondrous thing when you trust yourself enough to experiment, to explore, to search and find your way and to not know what’s going to emerge in your art.

This is where the magic happens.


Astonishing art will not bend to your will


You can’t force a painting to wow you.

But here’s the secret: if you continuously explore and experiment, creating many painting “starts” and allow for “ugly” paintings to emerge in the process- you will begin to create more paintings that surprise you, paintings that bring you closer and closer to your deepest self expression, paintings you love.

If this is something you’d like to explore further with me, you’ll love my bestselling book The Artist’s Journey: Bold Strokes To Spark Creativity. You can nab your copy HERE.  See book trailer below.


With gratitude,



Book Trailer: The Artist’s Journey: Bold Strokes To Spark Creativity



P.S. The Artist’s Journey book is here! To order your copy of the book on Amazon click >>> HERE. 

You can also order online from my local bookseller, Bookshop Santa Cruz >>>HERE.


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