Making Friends with my Inner Critic

The other day I got to go to the infusion suite and get some monoclonal antibodies — to, fingers crossed, help protect me against any Covid infections. As I got ready to go, I loaded up my backpack with things I might read or do to help me relax while I was there. A couple books, a magazine, a small notebook, a few favorite pens and pencils, my phone, and my rosary all made the cut.

As I was settled into the waiting room, I pulled out my copy of Creative Acts for Curious People. I was intrigued by Act #1 by Charlotte Burgess-Auburn. She suggested the act might help to silence my inner critic a bit. Or, perhaps more correctly, help us work better together. Too often, our inner critics are constantly evaluating instead of allowing us to experiment, play, and create without judgement. We want our inner critic’s opinion, but it’s often helpful if we first have the opportunity and freedom to just look, see, think, do, and make without continual critiquing.

Charlotte tasked me to find someone in my field of vision, and then draw them. To avoid conflict with my inner critic, I was to draw the person without looking away from them at my paper, and without lifting my pen from the paper. As I waited to be called in, I glanced about the waiting room to find a subject. I sketched for just a few moments, but quickly stopped, as It seemed too intrusive for me to focus on one person, without looking away for any length of time. I put my notebook and pen away, and waited for a more opportune time to try again.

Once in my recliner and little personal space in the infusion room, I pulled out the book and notebook again. I couldn’t see anyone else, so I looked about my space to see what else I might attempt to draw in the way Charlotte suggested. I decided on the shelf that sat next to me, heaped with supplies the nurses gathered just in case I had an allergic reaction.

I sketched, doing my best to find my place on the page, as well as try to figure out how to create the shapes of the various items, and the space between and behind them, without lifting my pen from the page. I was using a rather small notebook, and one of the most challenging and interesting things to accomplish was figuring out how much space I had left on the page.

I was pleasantly surprised when I looked at the drawing. It was no masterpiece for sure, but it resembled what I was trying to capture. I tried once more — including the IV machine and plug. Again, I was quite pleased with the result.

It may look like nothing to you, but I can pick out the various items. A purple roll of tape, a blue elastic, bags of stuff, the IV pole and machine, the blue plug and grey cord plugged into the electrical socket next to the sockets for plugging in your USB should you want to charge your phone, and the slatted divider between my section and the next.

I enjoyed the process and the product. For some reason it allowed my creative inner self and my inner critic self to be friends – kind to one another, learning from one another, rather than competing. As I looked at my sketch a bit more, I was struck by the looseness of the work. It was a feeling I’ve been searching for — and being eluded by — in my art and sketching. I’m going to try this more often when I’m out and about! Today I gave it a go with a small nativity set I have keeping me company on my window sill.

Again, it’s not a masterpiece. But, it is recognizable. To quote my brother “I knew what you were drawing when I looked at it.”

When you have a moment, give this creative act a go. Don’t fret. It’s not supposed to be perfect. It’s supposed to teach your things, help you make friends with your inner critic, and be fun. If you do give it a try, let me know how it goes.

I’m wondering if this is something I can try with my Kindergarten artists and how I might best present it to allow them to have an equally positive experience. If I try it with them I’ll be sure to write about it.

By the way, when I looked at my first photo in this post, I noticed the 10 speed press symbol. I looked it up to find out more. It’s part of the Crown Publishing Group. I include the link as you might enjoy giving it a look. I’m checking out their online magazine Taste, chuckling at these two seemingly competing ideas — We’ve underestimated Sprinkles and Roast Your Greens – Even the Delicate Ones.


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