Just Press Harder! Or Not.

Recently, my good friend Jan got herself one of those adult coloring books that are currently so popular. There are so many great ones out there, and she was drawn to the idea that she might spend some regular time coloring and that it might help her to relax and relieve stress. She bought some pretty colored pencils and commenced to color. After doing a few pages, she felt less than satisfied with the look of her work - the colors from the pencils was washed out and pale compared to what she had hoped to see. When she talked to a friend who colors regularly, she was told to "Just press harder!" Jan says now she has both unsatisfactory colors AND holes in the pages of her book.  Not the relaxing experience she was going for.

Luckily my friend is inquisitive, and looked around for a better way to what she wanted - that relaxed, "lost in the moment" feeling you get when you are doing an activity you enjoy. She went on to try tangles, and tells me that it works much better for her. In fact, she found some notebooks from her childhood that had similar doodles, so this type of art turned out to be especially attuned to her natural creative methods.

So here are a couple of notions this story highlights for us. 

  • Applying more force is only sometimes the best answer for a situation. Sometimes more or proper force is warranted (hammering a nail straight and true), but sometimes backing off and trying a different technique or route yields faster or more satisfactory results. Often, just when you let go of pushing or trying so hard for a particular outcome, things work out on their own in a way you didn't anticipate. Going with the flow and giving a situation some space can be very powerful.
  • If you don't like something, try something new. And if you don't like the next thing, don't give up, try another new thing. Jan could have gone a different route and gotten fine tip felt pens to fix her color issue, and she might have been happy with that if her main goal was to produce vivid pictures. In her case, trying another drawing method was the answer instead.
  • Identify what it is you want from your craft or art experience. Various answers to this question may lead you down very different paths. In Jan's case, she was mainly going for that relaxing,"let go and doodle" feeling where you might actually be surprised by what you make, or where the end product doesn't matter as much as the enjoyment of the time spent. On the other hand, you might select a craft because you want a specific item to be produced, say a photo collage for your mother's birthday. In that case, the materials used and the final look may have very narrow parameters (no bad pics of you and your sister, must match mom's decor). Sometimes when I create, I want to be very open; to show up and see what speaks to me and wishes to come through to the canvas or paper in that particular moment. In fact, I sometimes actually ask my paintings where they want to go next and see what I hear before continuing. All of these are valid and wonderful reasons to engage with any and all manner of creative acts.  
  • Re-connect with things your younger selves liked to do. Jan had forgotten about the doodling, and was delighted to remember it.
  • Don't limit these principles to art and craft. They apply to ALL of life. 

Remember, you too are Divine!