Why we need to make mess in life and art

Dec 01, 2022
creative living adventures


I've been exploring my vulnerability recently, wanting to find the positives in it, wanting to own it, allow it to be and enable it to make my life richer. It's been bloody hard.

Working on yourself intentionally is never easy but I have to say I feel like I’ve met my nemesis in the concept of vulnerability. For weeks I’ve been trying to get to grips with it, to understand it and to be OK with it. Part of the process has been to pick up a great book and read it again. It’s not a coincidence that Daring Greatly by Brene Brown found it’s way back into my hands at this point in my life. I even managed to get to page 4 before I had an emotional meltdown.

It was one word that stopped me in my tracks, ‘messy’. I suddenly had this realisation, and I mean a real, in my bones realisation, that life is a mess. That everyone’s life is a mess. That none of us know what we are doing and that we are all making mess, that its unlikely I will ever stop making a mess. I sat and cried. I felt my control ebbing away and with it my protective cloak of security. I cried and cried. I mean I really cried.

For me my biggest emotional struggles are around my feelings of safety and security, I have a tendency towards behaviours of anxiety and worry. So acknowledging that mess is both natural and likely in my life was like finding myself on a tightrope across the Grand Canyon.

After I let my emotions out, I started to understand ‘mess’ in all its glory. I started to explore the good side of it, the creative side, the human side. The way I did this was to look at how I create and make art as an analogy for my life. This isn’t the first time my art practice has taught me some pretty big life lessons.

In my art studio I’m not afraid of mess. In fact, I embrace it as a joyful part of the creative process. Making an intuitive mess is part of creation; it feels energetic, positive and has a forward motion to it that I love. Scribbles, splats, pours, words, sticking, blobbing, marks, dribbles, they all help me feel free and express something deep inside me.

So why then was I having such a hard time translating this to my life experiences? Why did I feel that life mess was intrinsically bad? I realised it was about permission and holding space. In my art I allow myself to play and create mess, to have a go and see what happens, to put things to one side I don’t like or reinvent them, to leave judgement at the door and go with the flow. In my wider life I am incredibly judgemental of myself and my progress, I make myself feel burdened with over responsibility, I rush and stress when there’s no need, I hold zero space for myself to have a go and instead focus mostly on the end result.

This mess of life and of art leads to so many wonderful outcomes and is in itself an incredibly powerful and freeing thing to enjoy. It takes being OK with your vulnerability to come to terms with making mess, just as it takes a great deal of courage to create and put your creations out into the world. I’ve started to see making a mess as a way for me to explore my vulnerability more deeply.

Here are my top reminders why mess is good in life and art:

  • We are all making a mess, its totally normal

  • Mess is good, it helps us work out a way forward

  • Getting messy is fun, it opens up our intuition

  • Starting with mess allows us to draw out the beautiful

  • The process of making a mess is as important as the end result

  • Mess isn’t the finished article, it’s just another step towards it

I hope you are all enjoying your mess, and if not, then like me, maybe you can start to explore it a little more openheartedly


I'm Kelly Herrick, a creative living guide, artist and author. I'm is here to help tired, busy and lost people rediscover their unique creative gifts. I use the raw green energy of Mama Earth and all the expressive, intuitive play of creativity to unleash the magic.  
Follow me on the socials @kellyherrickart


Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, metus at rhoncus dapibus, habitasse vitae cubilia odio sed.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.