Friday, March 9, 2012

When you're stalled

I'm about to begin a custom order, my first. A lot's riding on it. So of course I haven't begun. Also I've managed to work up a lather about an unrelated aggravating situation. I can't get into the flow because my passport to the state of Zen has been revoked. You've been in my flipflops, haven't you? Here's how I sneaked back into my creative cycle.

I knocked out a quick project just for myself. No pressure. Zero emotional investment in how it turns out. In other words, fearless. (By the way: It took all of my willpower not to write "snuck" for sneaked.)

Sharpie fabric painting
This started out life as a black-and-white skirt with boisterous floral graphics. I think I paid 99 cents for it at the thrift store. I'd seen an online tutorial some months ago on fabric painting with colored Sharpies and rubbing alcohol. It reminds me of watercolor, the way it spreads. Coloring outside the lines felt freeing! I knew I'd eventually find a use for that medicine dropper I couldn't toss. It made the perfect dispenser for just enough alcohol. It helps to use an embroidery hoop to keep the fabric taut. I put a clean plastic grocery bag under the skirt to keep the color from bleeding onto the lining.

I probably should have opened the window despite the blustering wind. If I start to sound spacey in the middle of this post, chalk it up to some intense sniffing of Sharpie scent. The rubbing alcohol smell took me back to my childhood, although I'm not sure why. Katol and Vicks Vaporub do that, too. No mom-and-apple pie memories for this child of the tropics.

Coloring outside the lines—Oh dear!
Out of this process came some good reminders that apply universally to writing, painting, photographing, learning how to dance, and any other courageous attempt you make:
  • Your first go at it will look crappy. Keep going.
  • While you're doing what you're doing your mind will race ahead and predict outcomes. Stay in the moment.
  • If you're anything like me, you'll want to overdo it. Know when you're done. (Don't ask me when; I never know.)

At some point it might start to look like you knew what you were doing all along. "Oh, I meant to do that." The boost to your confidence is priceless! "Maybe I'm not such a good-for-nothing loafer after all."

Once you're over the hump, you can't wait to get started on the project that doesn't seem so King Kong gargantuan now. But first you'll want to shout it from the blogtops: "I'm cured!"

Then you'll think of two more ways to exploit leverage the insight from this little adventure.

1) The free picnik premium collage, before they shut down on April 19:

2) The free Animoto 30-second video, because any new discovery gets done to death before boredom sets in:

Alrighty then. I think I'll lop off the bottom three inches of this skirt to ratchet down the matronly factor. Then I'll go outside and plant those summer-blooming bulbs on this single warm day of the week before the temps take another dive.

The world is your coloring book. What did you change about it today?