On Regular Creative Dumps

“What are you going to paint?” my husband asked as he watched me grab my long-neglected travel set of Windsor and Newton watercolors.

“I don’t know yet” I answered absentmindedly.

He looked at me, not quite understanding how one can paint and not know what they’re painting.

“When you’re wracked with self-doubt and creatively constipated like me, sometimes you have to just paint and not worry about what you’re painting,” I clarified.

“Well, sometimes you just need to take a big creative shit” he concluded as he walked away to check on his masterpiece — a pork shoulder smoking on the grill.

I laughed, but also realized the wisdom in his observation.

Sometimes you do just need to take a big creative shit.

In my day job as a support engineer, I troubleshoot websites and plugins all day. And as much as I love technology, using the analytical side of my brain that much wears me out mentally and spiritually.

I’ve made it a practice to go straight to painting and drawing after work. And the rules for these sessions are that there are no rules.

It’s a judgement-free zone where I create for the sake of creating and don’t worry about making something pretty.

This day I felt like painting prickly pear cactus. I later scanned it into Photoshop and added digital details in Procreate on my iPad.

Sometimes I make something pretty, but most of the time I make something terrible. And that’s okay.

As a result, I’ve felt less stressed and I’ve been able to get good practice on a lot of different techniques — both digital and traditional.

It’s been an effective way for me to deal with the stress, feelings, and confusion that come with being a creative person with a technical job. And I encourage you to give “creative dumps” a try.