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Getting My Creative Mojo Back with Brown Paint

Getting the creative mojo back -Jack Canfield quote "Don't worry about failures, worry about the chances you miss when you don't even try.

My inner critic was relentlessly running roughshod over my mojo.  My broken ankle was healing just fine but my creative bones seemed unable to go back to the way they were.  Turns out just as the ankle needed rehab, so did my mojo.

It was like there was big cloud following me around blocking out the sunshine. Nothing felt like play when I first got back into the studio after the surgery.  Here’s how I got my mojo back several months ago using a color I never expected to embrace.

I wanted to play so badly but couldn’t feel it.  This had been going on for days as I tried to get back to my old self in the studio.  Like a spoiled child having a temper tantrum in a toy store, I was about to stomp my foot that I wanted my mojo back.  Thankfully, I remembered the healing ankle and didn’t stomp.

I wish I could tell you that calm descended upon me and with a gentle hug my muse returned bringing me my mojo just because I wished for it. I don’t have that kind of muse.  When my inner critic is in full swing, she stays away.

So if I wanted to get back to my creative self, then I was going to have to get that inner critic under control.  When I get this backed into a corner creatively, my inner teenager comes out swinging.  She did not disappoint me. She said use brown.

How I got my creative mojo back using my least favorite color

My inner critic was going nuclear so my inner teenager decided, “I’ll give you something to complain about.”  Oh how I could hear my mother’s voice in those words.

On top of using the color that repels me, brown, I was going to use a bunch of other colors that don’t excited me, at all.  Basically, a recipe to make it ugly to me no matter what.

How I got my creative mojo back using my least favorite color

Then it was time to randomly grab a bunch of stencils and get pattern on an old ignored canvas.  Since I was using colors I didn’t like much it was utterly impossible for me to like much of anything happening.  My inner critic was having a nuclear meltdown trying to criticize me.

The colors did not disappoint me…they were as yucky as I expected.

How I got my creative mojo back using my least favorite color

Just imagine that inner critic rocking under the table, mumbling to herself because she snapped with all those colors.  She went hoarse screaming at me about what a horrifying mess this was.   Finally, she was quiet.

The muse began to come back. I grabbed more of “my” colors.  It was becoming a hot mess (a definite improvement from blindingly ugly) but the most important part was I was starting to have fun.

How I got my creative mojo back using my least favorite color

Then the silliness began. Using a fineliner filled with white ink, I began drawing on the hot mess.

A post shared by Carolyn Dube (@carolyn_dube) on

More silly feelings as I went graffiti style with the Krink paint marker.   I felt like a rebel, purposely misspelling words I was writing.  Now, this is absolutely ridiculous because I was scribble writing so it wasn’t like anyone, even me, could read what I had written.  But it felt good. It felt playful.

How I got my creative mojo back using my least favorite color

Now that I was feeling playful, making decisions was easier.  The pressure was off to make it good enough.  I was just having fun.

How I got my creative mojo back using my least favorite color

While journaling with a fountain pen, I realized this was the eye of the storm.  There had been turmoil getting the inner critic to quiet down and now it was the sweet spot of play.  But there was  turmoil still to come.

How I got my creative mojo back using my least favorite color

The inner critic was getting judgmental and loud again.  I could feel the playfulness slipping away.  I decided to find the shapes in the layers, just like I often do in my newsletter’s free Sparks of Art-spiration and cover up the rest with lots of white paint.

Now this is where it became utterly ridiculous.  The inner critic was getting louder and having a bit of panic attack that so much of this was about to covered up with white paint.  Really?  A split second ago, it was worthless, a hot mess, and no good.  Now it is treasure that you don’t want covered up?  It was really hard to take this voice seriously.

How I got my creative mojo back using my least favorite color

My inner critic was freaking out so I reminded her of the Jack Canfield quote, “Don’t worry about failures, worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.”

She wasn’t rational, so she did not embrace the spirit of it…in fact it seemed to make her even madder which brought my inner teenager immense joy.   I took the risk of outlining a few crazy characters on the canvas and slathering white paint everywhere else.

How I got my creative mojo back using my least favorite color

These 3 silly armless characters emerged, perhaps a reminder to not take the critical and crazy thoughts in my head too seriously.

This canvas had been a roller coaster ride starting with brown paint, but it was just what my mojo needed.  I had begun to feel like my old self and since then have been back in the studio playing.  The broken ankle is totally healed now, and so are my creative bones thanks to the play.

How I got my creative mojo back using my least favorite color
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  • Nanci Ring June 5, 2017, 8:23 am


  • Michele June 5, 2017, 11:58 am

    WoooHooo!!! for shutting down the inner critic.

  • Lynda Shoup June 5, 2017, 12:49 pm

    You have such a wonderful writing voice. Your ability to articulate all of this is so helpful and freeing. I wasn’t there, but feel like I found freedom as you went through all those stages. What fun this was to read!

  • Imelda Fagin June 5, 2017, 1:00 pm

    Wow….i hate brown too. I dont think I even own a tube…but oooooooo I love the result.

  • Denise June 5, 2017, 3:48 pm

    O Carolyn, I love what you did. First I loved your “hot mess” it was beautiful, then like your critic I didn’t want you to cover it, but the end result is funky and fun, love. Haven’t been commenting much lately and had to here. Hugs

  • Jean Marmo June 5, 2017, 7:17 pm

    What a transformation!!!

  • Annette June 5, 2017, 11:19 pm

    Wow! What fun.

  • Nancy Fontaine June 6, 2017, 11:11 am

    This was sooo fun to watch! Thanks so much for sharing.?

  • Marsha Sue Pitman June 6, 2017, 2:45 pm

    I’m in a bit of a funk myself right now and this is probably just what I need! Thank YOu! Love your process and end result!

  • MamaRose June 7, 2017, 2:43 pm

    You never ceases to amaze me. When I have a mess, I keep looking at it and working at it until it becomes something pretty, all because of your inspiration.

  • Becky June 9, 2017, 5:13 pm

    I loved the “hot mess”!!! But I love the quirky finished guys too! And you are absolutely hysterical to read! The inner teenager was a hoot! What a fun post and tips on how to make that inner critic meltdown and then shutup! 🙂

  • Jeri R Gale June 9, 2017, 5:34 pm

    You are brave to take on the inner critic! I love the final result of your “finding your way again” canvas. Atta girl and thanks for sharing. It is inspiring when an artist we admire shares her journey as not so straight and not so perfect.

  • Donna June 9, 2017, 5:46 pm

    I think those 3 critters that emerged as you played should now be constant companions to keep in your studio — and to tell that inner critic to button it when she gets too demanding and whiny! You have your own protection squad!

  • Karen June 9, 2017, 6:31 pm

    Thank you, I needed this. After a sewer flood and demolition of two bathrooms master bedroom hall and living room, they are finally after just 24 days starting to reconstruct the mess. Just like your playful inner self my house will heal and start functioning again.
    Your posts always lift my spirits when I read them.

  • Claire Harrison June 9, 2017, 7:56 pm

    What a lot of fun to get mojo back & what cute creaturs 🙂

  • Ellen June 9, 2017, 8:56 pm

    Woohoo Carolyn! Your three armless characters turned out great!! Good for you for teaching your inner critic a lesson and getting her under control. I really love the fact that you totally turned things around!! A lesson for all of us at ACJ!

  • LynneP June 9, 2017, 9:41 pm

    Your colorful critters are wonderful.

  • Susan Archibald Debourguignon June 9, 2017, 10:15 pm

    Carolyn, you are always so fun and upbeat. I always “leave” with a smile. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  • Diane June 10, 2017, 8:38 pm

    I enjoyed everything about this post from the quote to the end result. Would not thought of isolating the figures with white paint. Thanks for sharing. Glad you are feeling better.

  • Julie June 11, 2017, 11:30 am

    I love what developed in your painting. Beautiful!

  • Marianne Vakiener June 20, 2017, 10:19 pm

    I greatly enjoyed the description of your process. I think the result is beautifully colorful. Thanks!

  • Dorthy June 21, 2017, 11:04 pm

    Thank you for this. I am not at artist, just someone who plays at it occasionally. But today was a really rotten, horrible day and once I’d calmed down enough to relax a bit, I started randomly watching your youtube videos. Whichever came up I watched. And you made me want to play again. And then I came across this post, and the Jack Canfield quote. I too have that inner critic, not only in my creative side but in the business I am trying to build. You’ve given me the push I needed. Thanks again.