They came up in the most charming of spots and gave splashes of yellow and orange all over the place. I spread their seeds this summer in parts of the garden where they had never been before. Oh-oh. I hope I don’t regret that someday. But I can see them weaving themselves through the garden and helping to make it a unified space. 

I like that kind of randomness in the studio, too. I like some splashes of paint to land wherever it wants. I never know for sure what will happen. Sometimes I like it and sometimes it’s a disaster but it’s fun. And when it works, it’s magical and something I could never recreate if I tried.

The serendipity of a foxglove landing in exactly the right spot or paint blending in the most magical way or a ceramic glaze pooling in exactly the right crevice never fails to delight and surprise me. Happy mistakes. 

I love the precise detail evident in some of the great painted manuscripts or the work of great illustrators. I admire the control needed to accomplish it and think of the quiet, meditative work it requires. But for me, the serendipity, the happy mistake, takes the piece beyond me and let’s the universe help me make it.

With textiles, I can combine the serendipity of paint or dye landing wherever it wants with the controlled quiet of hand stitch. It’s a little like combining the serious practical, hardworking side of me with the mystical, running-free side.

I like that.

Roberta Wagner