ICBetween the years 2005 and 2010, I filled two large portfolios with drawings and paintings (plus a few that ended up on my office walls).   The impetus for this surge in creativity was something called art journaling, which I first came in The Artful Journal – A Spiritual Quest by Maureen Carey, Raymond Fox and Jacqueline Penney.  When I found the book I had been doing Morning Pages (a form of freeform written journaling recommended by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way) for years.   Morning Pages is three pages of longhand writing done first thing in the morning, stream of consciousness, no stopping, nothing off limits.  Connect the brain to the pen and go.   There are many good reasons to do Morning Pages but the one I want to talk about is silencing the fellow who provides the title of this post, I.C. – your Inner Critic.  We all have one, that voice in our heads who is fond of telling us we’re not very good at things, especially that first attempt at a poem or short story … or a first watercolor or drawing with pastels.  Why?   Well, According to Hal and Sidra Stone in Embracing Your Inner Critic, it started out when you were a child as a guide to meeting the standards of those around you, correcting you internally before you get in trouble.   But somewhere along the line, it tries to take over, becoming a specialist in telling you what you can’t … and shouldn’t … do.  Mostly by telling you you’re not good enough.

Morning Pages thwart I.C. by having no standards.  No required topics, no requirements on grammar or neatness or subject matter.  Nobody else gets to read Morning Pages.  You just write.  Oh, I.C. tries to get involved but he doesn’t know how to deal with something with no standards, so he eventually gives up.  Learning to write without I.C. opened up my writing.  It wasn’t all good but it flowed … and sometimes, it was very good.  So, getting back to art journaling, I reasoned that perhaps it could teach me to draw and paint without continually listening to I.C.’s opinions.   So twice a week, I would sit down with paints and pens and pencils and, well, just let them flow.   Watercolors on a very wet wash went where they went, and drawings followed, like this one.

cosmic puzzle

What the %&*$*( is that? I.C. would interject.  Nothing, I’d answer.  It’s an art journal.   Eventually he gave up and I began to create, producing those two portfolios of art including this one, my favorite.


blackbirdI bring this up because after 11 years I am trying to get back to drawing and painting. I finished a portrait of my daughter’s golden doodle, Bob and a sketch of a yellow-throated blackbird I saw down by Oquirrh Lake. It turns out that in those 11 years, I.C has regained his voice … That stinks, it doesn’t look like Bob, he said, And the bird is too fat. But my daughter, granddaughter and wife said it DOES look like Bob and yes, the bird is a little fat, but that’s OK, so am I.  I.C. may have his voice back but fortunately I remember that if I ignore him, he goes away.  Mostly.

What is YOUR Inner Critic keeping you from doing?

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One Comment on “I.C.”

  1. The thing about Inner Critic is the it tells you what it perceives as the correct/right way or image instead of what you actually see and what is actually there.
    One of the hardest things to get past. I once had a drawing instructor that made us draw in practically total darkness – to keep from drawing what you think it should look like instead of what is actually right in front of you.
    Ignoring IC is a great idea!

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