alcohol inks on yupo paperI want to give you an art-based example of life. This post is for anyone who has ever quit just shy of the tipping point or anyone who lets their negative self-talk get in the way of a win. I see it all the time, so I know you are out there—and I hope this post finds its way to your screen.

I made some changes to my schedule at the beginning of this year. I could feel myself starting to burn out and the creative well starting to dry up, so I cut back on my teaching schedule for at least the first few months of 2018. In hindsight, it was a phenomenal decision because it is affording me time to create my OWN art just for the sake of creating—as opposed to the act of creating art samples for my classes.

I was playing around with a new substrate and a new color scheme in my home office yesterday, and this is what initially showed up.

I didn’t love it at first. The colors were a lot muddier than I wanted them to be, I didn’t feel like there was a good flow, and I kind of wanted to toss it in the trash can. Also, does anyone else see a cow skull? I stopped myself because:

  1. There are no mistakes in art and you can ALWAYS transform a botched first try.
  2. This substrate is really expensive, so there was no way I was tossing it in the trash without first trying to transform it.

The first thing I did was to add some gold paint to the background. It helped soften some areas and highlight other areas (I didn’t take a picture before adding the gold paint). Then I left it alone. I walked away. Went and did other things.

Sometimes you get the most clarity when you leave things alone.
This is true for art as well as life.

When I finally came back to the piece, I started by rotating it and seeing what I could see in the shapes and shading.

Changing your perspective can change your mindset.

A flower here. A seashell there. Some leaves. A geode. And a vast area for some hand-lettering. It was starting to take shape in my mind and I felt excitement around its transformation.

The first thing I did was to turn the piece on its side. I felt like it flowed better horizontally, so I trusted my instincts.

alcohol ink doodles













I loved the harmonious way this started to flow and how it started to resemble something like a wildflower garden. It was such a relaxing, meditative process and I really started to be enamored with the uniqueness of the piece. I used a combination of black, gold, and white Posca pens to add definition and dimension. I didn’t go for perfection—I let the whole process happen organically.

I could have called it a day here because I loved the way the pen work transformed the piece. But, I wanted the piece to say something. It needed hand-lettering.

see the beauty alcohol inks















Those are the words that came to me after going through this process—the words that begged to be on this page. This small painting didn’t want me to give up on it. It wanted me to see beyond first impressions and ego-driven assumptions. This small, muddy creation invited me to PLAY. And I am so happy I agreed to attend the play date.

After almost throwing this in the trash, it has fast become one of my most favorite creations! I think the things that test you, that challenge you, that force you to look through a new lens are often the most rewarding things.

This technique of stepping away, looking at things from a new perspective, and adding your own special brand of knowledge can have profound positive effects in your relationships, in your business, in your life—and, as we have already seen—in your art. Don’t rush to trash it—work to transform it.

Think on these three things:

  • What can you step away from temporarily so you can go back and look at it with fresh eyes?
  • What can you give more time, energy, and love to?
  • In what ways can you shift your perspective for a more ideal outcome?

I’d love to hear from you.