Benzine's comments on page one of this thread took me back a few (nay, much more than a few) years. Back in the 1950's when I was trying to learn something about technique in painting, I took a class at San Francisco State in oil painting. I'd been fortunate to have a really great teacher in high school that taught me composition; challenged my imagination; inspired me; and made me work at art because he believed that to produce art you at least needed an idea of where you wanted to end up. Not so, the college instructor.
The class was entitled, Techniques of Oil Painting. I wanted to learn technique--the application of paint to canvas--whether using a brush, knife, forearm, my nose, or any means necessary. Regrettably, the class I'd signed for ended up more about painting large swathes of paint next to equally large areas of paint with no thought as to application, color, composition or anything else. When the instructor kept referring to his work as "abstract", I finally spoke up and asked what was he abstracting. His response was to shout he didn't need to explain himself to a "child" ( I was almost 20 and he was probably about 30). I said if he couldn't explain what his subject matter was, then it wasn't an abstract, but merely planes of color arranged in some manner that suited him.
I got bounced out of that class so quick! Had a heck of a time getting my tuition fees returned, too.
That episode did two things. (1) Made me rethink taking classes in higher learning. (2) Made me realize that if you throw cow poop at a barn wall and end up framing it , it's still cow poop!
Before you rag on me, let me state that I like Jackson Pollock, Mondrian, Picasso and a whole slew of other non-traditionalist artists. BUT, their early work shows that they studied and then departed from traditional aspects, but with an idea of where/what they wanted to achieve. No art speak, just a view of where the work would end.
I'm sure all of you have experienced throwing a pot early in your career and having it collapse in a strange way or fold in on itself. Sometimes it even looks good enough to keep. However, those happy accidents are few and far between. Students would ask if they could keep it. I would say, can you produce another? Most often, the answer was no. We work hard and every once in awhile serendipity gives us a gift. Most often, the gifts come about by perfecting our techniques to the point where we no longer have to rely on happy accidents or serendipity.
my two cents,