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  • Writer's pictureKatrina Carruth


I’m a terrible painter. Absolutely no talent whatsoever (unless perhaps I was in competition with a 5 year old, in which case I’m sure said 5 y/o would still elicit a more enthusiastic response for their effort than I would).

But, I love painting. A few years ago I took up painting with alcohol ink because I was told you can’t control it anyways and so it doesn’t really require talent and doesn’t matter what the outcome is because it’ll always be chaos.

(And I did occasionally look pretty whilst in the throes of making alcohol ink bookmarks as seen pictured)

I felt good about this new hobby considering "chaos" is my middle name and my author brand. And, I noticed something about pursuing this form of painting and how I approach it that differs slightly from writing.

Imposter syndrome can't touch me when I'm painting.

I literally give zero fucks when it comes to how something turns out, even when two of my best friends prove that you can absolutely control alcohol ink and venture well beyond the realm of the random color blobs that I achieve.

I'll provide examples so you know I'm not lying.

First, I was gifted these two beauties by the insanely talented Lisa Burbidge, whose work you cannot find online and I am insanely lucky to know her personally:

(Like, not even fair.)

Second, my dear friend Rachael Roberts Bush (brilliant botanist, author, and painter) did these which, I have to say, do not at all offer even a tiny glimpse of all she can do with this ink, you can check out more of her work here.

(those coffee stains!)

AND... here's MY best work with the alcohol ink

(if you're drinking something, it's best to swallow now before you continue scrolling):

*Drum roll...*

A random alien dude I did not intend to make when I started and bookmarks!

Now, I'm not sharing examples to shit on myself - in fact my intention is quite the opposite. I...

A) love bragging about my friends and thought it was absolutely worth your time to see the talents they lovingly share with me and

B) THE POINT IS THAT I DID NOT STOP PAINTING or get discouraged by what other people were doing.

In fact, I decided to bust out all sorts of paints that I’d once given up on (the acrylics and watercolors - oils if I could comfortably afford them) and thought well, if I’m going to suck at painting I might as well suck across the board.

Which brings me to our theme: Shart

No, I’m not referring to the sort of messy flatulence you’re thinking of.

I started calling my paintings Shart, which stands for: Shitty Art. The kind of art I let myself enjoy regardless of how good it might or (undoubtedly) might not be.

It’s liberating. Refreshing. And honestly kinda wholesome which, in the world we live in today, feels really good once in a while.

Now, when it comes to writing...

I admit I get bogged down real fast when I read something that sounds brilliant and lyrical, when I love a particular author's style and realize how different it is from my own and wonder if that means my writing sucks, or when I try to ignore how many rejections I've had on a handful of my "best" pieces. (I'll stop there)

But I started an experiment a while ago that has now become a habit. I begin a writing session with a sprint called "start with a shart" where I give myself a few minutes of silence to meditate, then start writing everything and anything that comes to mind, regardless of whether or not it makes sense, for 5-20 minutes.

The results?

  1. I discovered my writing voice. The real, natural one, not the one I was forcing.

  2. I realized that writing nonsense actually got a lot of fluff out of my brain and made space for me to focus.

  3. I NEVER hit the end of my designated sprint time and had to stop what I was writing and move to another project because I naturally moved into the thing I planned to do anyways.

  4. I never got stuck because there was no expectation to maintain any sense of direction.

  5. A LOT of the "nonsense" writing was usable, either in a new project or for a current one. It was surprising how much of what dumped randomly from my brain felt fresh and cohesive enough to utilize somewhere.

So... if you're feeling stuck or trapped in an unsavory headspace, give this a try. I've had a lot of fun with it, and found myself able to get back into a consistent groove when I release my expectations.

I hope it works for you!

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