Tag Archives: art process

Do It Now – Foil the Inner Critic

There’s been a lot of road work in the neighborhood; lots of large metal sheets covering the plumbing underneath. I pass by one with a turquoise paint splotch and the color catches my attention. I stop and stare. There’s already an obvious eye, that’s promising. It would need another one, something kind of big, the little seeds in my purse aren’t going to get the job done. I glance around but don’t see anything useful. I’m in a hurry to get to work. It doesn’t matter. I don’t need this face.

A few feet later I come across a chain and hook, probably used to lift and move those slabs. Not this again. I don’t have time to monkey around with a cumbersome object and I already learned my lesson about taking stuff like this home. I’m not assuming responsibility for the next two years. I walk on.

Wait! It hits me. The hook could be the eye and the chain could be the nose for that splotch. Okay. You win, imagination. I’m turning around and doing this.

The lesson from the two year bike chain saga (chronicled in the Bags of Crap Series which you can find on my home page) is that you need to act on opportunity right when it first walks through the door. What you do, gets done, what you don’t do fades like fog on a hot day or becomes a big headache. I’ve trained myself to get to it and get to it quickly. No over thinking, just get her done.

Besides the lack of nagging dissatisfaction that missed opportunity often creates, I usually get something really unexpected from acting quickly. I most certainly didn’t pre-visualize this anxious fellow. The hustle forces me to bench my inner critic. No time to consult him. He’s such a drag anyway. He only approves of things the world has already vetted, meaning, he only likes what other people like. Too much originality makes him nervous and then he starts chattering away in my ear, blowing my confidence. For example, he might say, that hook doesn’t look like an eye to me. What’s going on with the bottom of the nose, there’s no shape there. Too bad you don’t have any darker sticks. A shame you threw them all away when you were cleaning out your bags.

Stop! This is not helpful!

Is this a portrait of him? I think it is! He doesn’t seem to like it. Too bad. Go away if you don’t want your picture taken. No one invited you on this walk anyway.

That’s mean. I am sorry. Let’s be friends. Why don’t you enjoy the stroll and help me out when I get home and we’re trying to select the best picture to post. You’ll be good at that.

Why is that critical people are always the first ones to get there feelings hurt? I could ask myself if I really cared to hear the answer. Moving on! Gotta get to work.

I didn’t leave this face in place, not good for car tires. I put the chain on some road work related stuff so it could be retrieved. You’re welcome LADWP and thanks so much for keeping everything in good working order!

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What Should I Do With These Sticks?

Sticks are so useful, I never have enough. Sometimes I get frustrated and gather a lot at once. As I cleaned out my overstuffed dog walk bags on my desert retreat, I discovered I did actually have enough. Way more than enough. I needed to let some go. I needed to throw them away.

No! That doesn’t feel good. I will not divest before giving them a chance at the big time. I personally selected those sticks and carried them around for months. They will have their 15 minutes. Here goes.

Check him out. He’s determined!
Can I use this fake fly as an ear?
Yes. Works so well, now he’s demanding a cap.
Next time you are in Target perusing the cookie sheets you’ll think, that would be perfect for sorting my sticks.

Even though this was the first face I made in the desert and the first post I wrote after returning home with my newly cleaned out bags, I am posting him last. He sums up the process nicely. I picked up some sticks, I arranged them into a face, I threw them away.

Seth Godin says: There’s a hackneyed expression, which is what would you do if you knew you could not fail. I find that completely unhelpful because it’s basically a genie question; You want control and you’re never gonna get it. Here’s my question. What would you do if you knew you would fail? What would be worth doing even though it’s not going to work?

I can say I will make faces out of crap on the sidewalk no matter what. I mean, what outcomes are even possible? It’s not an activity with a known outcome. And maybe that’s why I love it. It’s just a fun, joyful thing to do.

The problem, because there is always a problem, is that I collect stuff and then I am saddled with stuff. Then I have to agonize over choices. Keep it or chuck it? Keeping objects is a sign I believe in their potential, or maybe that I believe in my potential, to turn them into something that could make me smile. But is it worth the burden of having all these grubby, difficult to store objects? I really don’t know. Even as I write, all the stuff I let go of in the desert is in a plastic bag under the drawing table in my office. I haven’t thrown it away! Just in case I think of something I might need in there. Have I learned nothing? Or have I learned everything?

I do think I will throw it out, probably once the Christmas decorations rear their multitudinous heads. There won’t be room for everyone. The fact that it’s sorted in a single disposable container means it will be much easier and faster to get rid of then when it was spread over multiple bags and mixed with treasure. Processes are time consuming. If I knew how to make them not that way, I would tell you.

I think going forward I will be more choosey about what I pick up, I will try to make the face right away and when all else fails I will not berate myself for having tangible signs that I was interested in something. Better to be interested than apathetic. So, I will tell myself this: Self! If you have some junk laying around waiting to become a face, don’t get so upset. Something wonderful is sure to happen.


The Seth Godin quote comes from the Time Ferris podcast of October 26th, 2020: Seth Godin on The Game of Life, The Value of Hacks, and Overcoming Anxiety (#476). It is fantastic and I highly recommend it.

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