I know it’s fear that keeps us from creating.
Fear that our work will suck, fear we’ll be stuck for an idea, or fear we won’t measure up. And the truth is, we waste so much time fretting, we’re missing out on opportunities to explore and express. In my corporate creativity workshops, I often use a warm-up exercise that requires only one-minute of the executives’ time. Literally. Facing large white canvases or boards, they are asked to splash or swipe paint all over the surface, until time is up. Interestingly, it takes all the fear out of the equation, because there is just no time for it.
In art school, our teachers would pare that task down to 30-seconds of quick sketching, and then 10-seconds of drawing the same model. It got to the point where we were cranking out a dozen sketches or more per class, and miraculously, they were kind of cool. The really gnarly part was when they told us to draw with our eyes closed. Control freaks freaked. But in the end, as always, it was really about the process, not the product: the experience of getting it done, fearlessly, and boldly. It went a long way toward establishing confidence and feeling joy from a newfound freedom.
I’m working on a new website this month, and I decided to videotape a one-minute painting, shot through a 4 x 8 foot sheet of glass (technically acrylic). We edited a 5-second cut from the minute, but we’ll post more once we launch the site. It was a bit of a production in our backyard (and definitely tested my marriage) because my photographer husband warned of the 35-mile-an-hour Santa Ana winds blowing through… and the acrylic sheet was precariously placed under clamps and between a few cinder blocks. One swift nasty gust and we would have had to call it quits. (The shoot, not the marriage.) Check out the video below. It ain’t no Sister Wendy.