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Inviting in a Thief to Steal My Joy

Step-by-step stencil play with paints  in an art journal by Carolyn Dube

Do you ever suddenly feel disappointed with your art journaling? Perfect is what causes that to happen to me.  Perfect is a thief I invite in to rob me of my joys. Not only do I invite Perfect in…it seems I send out engraved invitations some days…

1700s building stencil by Carolyn Dube for StencilGirl Products


I started playing with my 1700s Stencil with only one goal, to use up some leftover paints from my palette.   The only pressure I felt was to use up that paint.




buildings stencil play in an art journal by Carolyn Dube


By pulling out parts of the stencil randomly here and there I created a new building to fit onto the page in a new way.  Then I added some color here and there.

I began to wonder if I was just making a big mess. Perfect was knocking on the door trying to get in and take the fun out of my play.

I didn’t open the door for Perfect by reminding myself  I was just playing with no expectations.



Step-by-step buildings stencil play with washi tape in an art journal by Carolyn Dube



Added some subway map washi tape near the top  and more paint.

I got lost in the fun of playing with color.





buildings stencil play in an art journal by Carolyn Dube


Sparked by the circles in the subway tape I put  black circles in threes.  A bit of Golden High Flow paint for some scribble writing.  Still just playing. Little did I know Perfect was still there,  lurking right outside my door…





 When the Thief Shows Up to Steal Your Joy

buildings stencil play in an art journal by Carolyn Dube


While adding an Eiffel Tower with a rubber stamp I suddenly became tentative.  Before I realized it, I was being critical.   Harshly critical.  I had rolled out the red carpet and invited Perfect right in…


The tightness, the hesitation, the fear I feel when Perfect is there is extremely uncomfortable.  That discomfort reminded me that if I invited Perfect in, I can send Perfect right back out!


How did I do it?  By asking that thief a few questions.  Who said this has to be perfect?   Who decides if it is perfect?  What makes perfect so perfect?

There is no answer that is remotely believable, plausible, or reasonable to those questions.  Perfect was escorted right back outside.

Does Perfect ever show up for you?  How  do you handle it?

Sharing with my friends at  Paint Party Friday, Creative Every Day, Inspire Me MondayMake It Monday, and Mandarin Orange Monday.


{ 40 comments… add one }

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  • Elizabeth Kaplan March 6, 2014, 5:22 pm

    I focus on improving. I don’t know what perfect even is. My style is emerging with less judgement and more play. You taught me that.

    My secret weapon is that I embrace the grunge look. No such thing as perfect grunge, so I can always win.

  • Denise spillane March 6, 2014, 5:29 pm

    I invite him to leave

  • Dr Queen March 6, 2014, 5:30 pm

    This is truly stunning. Tell that Perfect thing to get lost.

  • Tamiko McCurry March 6, 2014, 5:38 pm

    For me.. her name is Mother Bea Little! When she shows up.. I just tell her to kick rocks!! The ONLY person who has to like what I do is me! If I like it.. it’s all that really matters.. I am far from perfect.. I can’t make a straight line with a guide of sort… ever! It’s ok though. I embrace my imperfections and make the best out of them!

  • Anna Ely March 6, 2014, 6:06 pm

    Excellent blog post! I too am guilty of inviting Perfect in, sometimes before I can even start.

  • Vicky March 6, 2014, 6:08 pm

    Excellent post…thank you for sharing a simple reminder and your experience. It fits ‘perfectly’ (!!) into my day…:)

  • Jan J March 6, 2014, 6:36 pm

    All I have to think is nothing is Perfect – me, the artwork or the pot roast. If it doesn’t come out pleasing consider it a learning experience. It will get better. And that’s PERFECT for me.

  • Sharon Estes March 6, 2014, 6:59 pm

    This is a cool piece Carolyn, I love Paris theme , and the title is a Hoot.

  • Sue March 6, 2014, 7:31 pm

    Yes, what exactly is perfect, anyway? Your page seems to me – to be – perfect! I love it, and perhaps, in imperfection, there is perfection – not always perfect after all. Anyway, isn’t perfect just an attitude? For what is perfect to one person may not be so for another.

  • Maggi Focke March 6, 2014, 7:40 pm

    Thank you for this post, Carolyn. I needed it after my creating time this afternoon. Honestly, I am not a person who seeks perfection, in fact I have a personal motto that says: ” I don’t seek perfection, I just try to do the best job I can with the talents that God gave me”….BUT….I decided that I was going to created a Lenten Journal using one word per day supplied by a FB contact. Only on Day Two and realized this afternoon that I am trying to hard for “perfect”…so your comments are very timely for me. Who said it, what makes it and who decides it? My new mantra, exp. for this Journal. Thanks!

  • Terri Daniels March 6, 2014, 8:41 pm

    Thanks Carolyn! Mostly “perfect” shows up before I even start and then stops me from even beginning! I’m trying hard to push through, did actually do a Zentangle the other day! Accomplishment! My gelli plate is in site, only played with it one day, but it keeps calling me. Next step..get the paint in site and clean up a play area, then get messy!My plan: start with a Zentangle, then keep going to the paint! Thanks for your inspiration!

  • Maria McGuire March 6, 2014, 9:47 pm

    Perfect shows up everyday and EVERY project. How do I deal with it….talk to you of course!!! I think the addition of the Eiffel Tower was perfect!

  • Caroline D. March 6, 2014, 10:31 pm

    First …. your page is gorgeous and I love it! Second…. Perfect must be Inner Critic’s cousin. I just embrace the imperfections because it’s just more fun! 🙂

  • Cath Sheard March 6, 2014, 11:48 pm

    What a great post. I’m a messy muddler so don’t get worried about perfect. My ‘demon’ is – why are you wasting your best *insert product name* on “just” a journal page or whatever… Silly really.

  • Corrie March 7, 2014, 12:55 am

    I love you………I truly love you….
    I think you are just about as perfect as perfect gets.

  • Ruth L March 7, 2014, 2:46 am

    Inner criticism or perfectionism well not easy to deal with them. A few years back after listening to everyone’s lecture about what would be perfect for me, I decided I am not going to be perfect, I’d rather be myself, and that’s what I try to make clear in my work as well. That’s me, that’s my vision, perfect or not. I want to be myself and not what others expect from me to be! By the way your journal page is amazing!

  • Sylvia Tabor March 7, 2014, 5:41 am

    I truly love how you fight “The Critic”… It is so inspirational to hear/read another’s plight with THAT nasty critter, finding your resolution, and giving yourself permission to accept … Brilliant !!! Thank you!!!

  • terri stegmiller March 7, 2014, 8:22 am

    Oh yes! I can relate. I’ve gotten better over time about the “perfect” thing, but it slips back in at times without any warning.

  • Annette G March 7, 2014, 9:42 am

    wonderful page Carolyn. Happy PPF, Annette x


  • Judy Shea March 7, 2014, 11:46 am

    .. and the teacher in you continues. Thank you.

  • Penny StewArt March 7, 2014, 11:51 am

    Great Blog! I am not a religious person, spiritual maybe, but not into religion. That being said, when I lived in Hawaii many years ago they had a saying, “God don’t make no junk.” I AM a perfect creation. I am the perfect ME. NO one else can be me. I am the perfect Penny. Sometimes I amaze me when I create something new or better than I did before. Enjoy your unique perfection. I do. Penny Lee StewART.

  • Linda K March 7, 2014, 1:21 pm

    I love how you work your way thru things Carolyn. Your page is really fantastic with those glorious colors-and I’m always for a Parisian/French theme too !

  • Carol Samsel March 7, 2014, 3:06 pm

    Love your page !!!! I find myself battling with that creature too often…. Constantly telling myself to “CHILL” and ” Feel” cause it’s alright 🙂

  • Nancy March 7, 2014, 3:17 pm

    Eloquent and on point. Just went through that this week. Well done, my dear.

  • Giggles March 7, 2014, 3:29 pm

    How about owning your own perfection…… how about that? You see….I truly see perfection in this completed piece! It’s beautiful for me because it has many of my favorite colors melding together on one page, there is some gorgeous shading of colors together, it’s playful and whimsical, which I also love…and the best part….I LOVE black lines in artwork….so this my dear is my kind of perfection!!!
    Hugs Giggles

  • gill edwards March 7, 2014, 3:49 pm

    i’ve discovered that i tend to empty my mind when doing art, doodling etc i dont consciously think what im doing so i enjoy myself but suddenly i find i dont know where to go next with a page and its then that i start thinking about things and doubts creep in. Often i’ll leave it and go back later but i do hate that feeling and sometimes take it far too seriously. I am working on how to relax more.

  • Jean Marmo March 7, 2014, 4:25 pm

    Love the bright colors! The journaling and that stamp!! Perfect stops me many times! I need to learn to ask it a few questions!

  • Annabelle March 7, 2014, 4:31 pm

    Beautiful page and Perfect is far from beautiful .
    So glad you chose to escort him outside.
    Imperfection is original.
    Annabelle 🙂

  • lynn cohen March 7, 2014, 6:06 pm

    Love your choice of colors and how it all came about. Great teacher you are too!

  • Suzanne March 7, 2014, 6:53 pm

    I was born a perfectionist. Perfect is my constant companion. I wish I could find a new more laid back, fun and playful companion. I’m working on it. I won’t miss Ms. Perfect at all and I could make so much more art since it won’t take me hours and days to do one thing!!!

  • Sandy :) March 9, 2014, 6:34 am

    I just kick it out and say there is no perfect here sorry.. Go find someone who wants to be.. I am having to much fun being imperfect..
    Happy PPF
    Sandy 🙂

  • Dayle March 10, 2014, 10:24 am

    I gave up perfectionism a long time ago. I still like to “get it right,” whenever I can, but I’ve learned few things are ever “perfect.”

    Your art looks fabulous to me!

    I’m joining you from Inspire Me Monday, where we’re neighbors.

  • lorraine williamson March 10, 2014, 10:35 am

    hang in there and kick inner critics butt love the art page and its beautiful imperfections are in the eye of the beholder and I see none

  • loz March 10, 2014, 3:30 pm

    Fabulous artwork and colors Carolyn. I saw this on MIM..Loz

  • andrea March 11, 2014, 9:45 am

    I saw your work on MIM and had to come see some more I love the use of bright colours and the contrast with the black it really makes an impact . I admire your battle with perfection and your honesty in sharing it with us all ,and mostly for coming out on top; we are so self critical and as always others see the beauty we cannot see ourselves . Well done for creating a stunning piece of work and not giving up .Crafty hugs… Andrea #22

  • irene March 12, 2014, 2:06 pm

    Congratulations on escorting the thief critic out of the room and contenting with your lovely creation.

  • Marjie Kemper March 13, 2014, 7:42 pm

    Super project, Carolyn, and it definitely resonates with so many… you’re wise to promptly show that fellow the door! Your art is gorgeous, girrrrrrlllllllll.

  • Paula - Buenos Aires March 15, 2014, 6:57 pm

    Oh! You managed to get him back out! Well done!

  • Lori March 16, 2014, 2:43 am

    Great to see the development of your work . I often have the same problem as you…inviting the thief in (what great way of expressing it) but I keep slogging. The only problem I then won’t get rid of all the rejects!!! A true hoarder, perhaps? Or just indecisive? Thanks for joining me on my return to the blogging world and taking part in MoM:)

  • Donna Johnson April 7, 2014, 1:17 pm

    I look Perfect in the eye and say, “I do not believe one word of what you are saying. It is not true”. And then I send her back where she came from and move on. She is persistent and sometimes I have to run her off more than once. I remind her that I am in charge, that she is not in charge. So there. Bite me, Perfect.