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OOPS! How I Handle it When I Can’t Play

How I handle it when I can't play because I'm paralyzed by just starting...mixed media style!I was completely in my head when I tried to play.  Any idea I had was shot down instantly.  That first step of getting started felt paralyzing.  My muse had left the building.  Play was not going to be happening with this mindset.  But this has happened many times to me and in the video, I am sharing how to get the muse to come back.

How fitting that I was paralyzed by all my expectations when I needed to make a video about no expectations for this week’s Let’s Play video. I am sure the muse enjoyed a good laugh over that one!

New to Let’s Play?  It’s all about rediscovering the ability to play. Each month I share a specific strategy that helped me recapture the freedom and fun of play.  This month’s theme is no expectations. You can see more of the Let’s Play series here. Be sure to get entered in the $50 Dick Blick giveaway by leaving a comment.

Watch How I Handle it When I Can’t Play- Mixed Media Style on YouTube.

Fineliner Tutorial mentioned in the video

So how do I get out of my head and start playing? By grabbing whatever is around me and starting to use it…even if I have no idea where it is going.  This was a very unimpressive start.  Just gel pen scribbling on a piece of scrap wood from a home repair project.

How I handle it when I can't play because I'm paralyzed by just starting...mixed media style!

Then I stamped some letters.  I couldn’t even decide on which word to stamp, so I just did random letters until a word came to mind.


How I handle it when I can't play because I'm paralyzed by just starting...mixed media style!

In the video, you’ll see how to get every last drop of color out of a tube of paint…and it involves scissors.

How I handle it when I can't play because I'm paralyzed by just starting...mixed media style!

O.O.P.S. after O.O.P.S. happened using the black fineliner. Some would call them mistakes but really they are Outstanding Opportunities Presenting Suddenly.

For all the feelings of EEEK involved in starting and playing when feeling paralyzed, the word BE was the one the muse told me to stencil.  After all, she came back so I listened to her.


How I handle it when I can't play because I'm paralyzed by just starting...mixed media style!

Now you’ve seen my play, let’s see yours!  Share what you’re creating with us all in the Facebook group and be inspired by what others are creating! And be sure to leave a comment here to get entered in the monthly $50 gift certificate giveaway!

Here are the supplies I used. Some of these links are affiliate links which means I get a small percentage. It doesn’t cost you anything extra and you are helping me keep this blog and my videos ad free! Thank you- I don’t like ads any more than you do!

Specific ways to rediscover play by Carolyn Dube

Want to see more Let’s Play videos? You can find all the weekly posts here.

Sharing your play:   I, and a whole bunch of others, would love to see what you’re creating!  We’re sharing it in the Facebook group called A Colorful Place to Play. Why Facebook?  I’ve listened to your feedback about how and where you’d like to share your play instead of the link parties.

Monthly giveaways:  Leave comment on any (and all for more chances) of the weekly Let’s Play blog posts to be entered and one winner each month will be chosen by random.org.  Want more chances to win a $50 gift certificate to DickBlick.com?  Pin any of the images from the page or share about it on Facebook- then come back and leave a comment telling me what you did and you can have more chances to win! Giveaway closes the Sunday, October 30th at 11 pm EST and the winner will announced on the blog the following Monday.

Congrats to Misty, last month’s winner!

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  • Trish Gutuskey October 24, 2016, 8:23 pm

    Love your Let’s Play segments, they are so fun and inspiring. You really take all the intimidation out of art journaling and make it all about “Play” and “Fun”, thanks ?
    Trish Gutuskey

  • Jean Marmo October 24, 2016, 9:10 pm

    I had to laugh – I am usually in my head whenever I sit down. I also save tubes and bottles of paint until there is nothing left. I will have to see if there is a way to cut the plastic bottles open. I am so glad to see your Oops. Makes me think there is hope for me! Thanks for always making me smile!

    • Carolyn Dube October 24, 2016, 9:19 pm

      I get in my head all the time Jean- I think it keeps the muse amused…there is hope for us all!

  • Christy October 24, 2016, 9:21 pm

    I love watching your process, thank you for sharing its so helpful to see how others work thru not being able to play

  • Lia Klobucher October 24, 2016, 9:39 pm

    Carolyn, I always love your Muse. 😀 Pick it up and just start using, that will be my Mantra when I get going again. I always love your videos. Very casual and loose.

  • Dorlene October 24, 2016, 9:52 pm

    I love your videos and giving us permission to play. I will try this technique when I’m overthinking my next project. Thanks!

  • Theresa Sim October 24, 2016, 11:37 pm

    I am so thankful for the giving myself permission to play. I have honestly expanded my palette of rainbows and total happiness. Thank you Carolyn Dube! You are a rock star.

  • Annie October 25, 2016, 4:53 am

    Thanks Carolyn! Everytime I see something in your videos that I want to try. This time the gelpen scribbling.

  • Zsuzsa Karoly-Smith October 25, 2016, 5:53 am

    It’s hard to believe that even you get paralysed by your expectations from time to time, Carolyn! Oh, how I know that feeling! Thanks for the inspiration to just play!

  • Jeanette Jones October 25, 2016, 7:17 am

    This was especially fun to watch. I love seeing the idea of nothing become something. Without the angst.
    As always you totally inspire to get up in my art room and have fun.

  • Donna October 25, 2016, 7:50 am

    Love your videos always learn something from them

  • Glenda October 25, 2016, 8:12 am

    What a great way to start the day. Having just moved, I have tons of packing materials to play on and with. Thanks for the inspiration….and the empty paint tube tip.

  • Janice Weiser October 25, 2016, 9:16 am

    Love the idea of slicing open the paint tubes! Thanks as always for the inspiration Carolyn!

  • Suz October 25, 2016, 9:17 am

    Grabbing what’s at hand and playing is a great way to get the creative juices flowing! All the changes along the way is that muse peeking through, until she finally shows up. Love it.

  • lou October 25, 2016, 9:39 am


  • Jean Pilch October 25, 2016, 10:37 am

    I was stuck too. So I started finger painting with gesso and zoom. You are such a teacher. Just begin & our muse will come.

  • Michele White October 25, 2016, 11:29 am

    YOU are such an inspiration!! I am a 56 year old kid and I love to play! I have rediscovered this joy thanks to you and your infectious enthusiasm!

  • Carla October 25, 2016, 12:04 pm

    Awesome and inspiring. Wish you were closer to take a lesson in person.

  • Sharon Rawson October 25, 2016, 12:46 pm

    Learning from you that oops are opportunities, you have given me courage to try instead of just being too afraid to create! Thank you!

  • Corrine October 25, 2016, 1:20 pm

    Doodling is good, for me too and I made my students do it last Saturday to jump start the class. Works every time. Not everyone was as colorful as you however! xox

  • Erika October 25, 2016, 1:55 pm

    Playing more with every video you share. I still struggle with thinking I need a plan but I am fighting it. Thank you for all your inspiration!

  • Nancy G. October 25, 2016, 5:18 pm

    I like the idea that we just need to get started rather than just sitting and doing nothing.

  • LynneP October 25, 2016, 6:20 pm

    Really enjoyed this video and how you moved from head to heart. Especially appreciated that it took you several tries before your muse decided to stick around! You are a wonderful teacher. THANK YOU!

  • Charity V October 26, 2016, 2:38 am

    Love it! I’ve been having more and more days like this where I can’t get out of my head, but all of your play ideas are so great!

  • Jana October 27, 2016, 9:33 am

    Thanks for sharing! It’s time to fire the inner critic and begin to play!!

  • Monica October 27, 2016, 1:18 pm

    I’m loving your no expectations month! So great to remember that the best way to get out of my head is to just begin !!

  • Teresa Wheeler October 27, 2016, 4:59 pm

    I love your attitude!

  • dawn October 27, 2016, 9:09 pm

    I really love watching your videos. They are always inspiring. You remind us all that the most important thing is to have fun.

  • Amanda Walden October 28, 2016, 3:25 pm

    I love the cheerful rainbow palette you usually use! Glad you played your way out of your head. I’m a save-every-last-bit girl too! 🙂

  • Sharon Field October 30, 2016, 6:22 pm

    I always find myself smiling when I watch your videos. You definitely just jump right in there, which is something I am still trying to do. I THINK more about doing than actually doing, but I learn more and more from you everytime I watch you create………..thanks for being such an inspiration!