By McKenna Smouse

I struggle so deeply with not wanting to create unless I have the perfect idea, the perfect story, the right supplies. In fact, this essay is coming out like a kidney stone. I had this wonderful title and the ending hook but nothing in between. 

In November I took a big vulnerable step and signed up for a watercolor gift tag workshop. Have I ever water colored? Nope. Do I usually use gift tags? Also nope. Was it only $15 and out of the house for 2 hours? Hell yes. But the crazy thing is, I loved it. I loved every second of it. I loved the way the colors were playful. I could easily follow along with the tutorials. The women around me were bursting with creativity, more focused on their own work than what the others were doing around them. I felt proud of what I made. So I bought a watercolor journal. 

I’ve been playing. I’ve been watching my kids play and trying to unlearn what “good” means. And my art is ugly. Some are beautiful. But most are ugly. I don’t know how to paint houses. I don’t know how to blend colors. I don’t know anything about color theory except for the phrase “color theory”.

That’s not the point. 

What I find is that when I’m making bad art, the art itself may be bad but the creative juices are still flowing. I find myself more creative in my motherhood, friendships, and marriage.

I’m inspired to see the beauty in things. I pause and look differently at the way the lines of my house draw together. I look at my children as these stunning creations. These beautiful works of art who live and breathe and love and play in my house. I feel bold and brave to play with the flavors and fragrances of monotonous daily meals. I snag my phone as a lovely phrase for my next essay breezes through my mind and I quickly jot it down. I have energy to put on the soft music, light the candles and create a peaceful home where we can rest, discover and engage deeply with one another. 

The story I tell myself at the end of the day, sounds more like “you created something in your watercolor journal” rather than a steady diet of consuming instagram and youtube. I look at chores as a way to daydream. Wiping the table after dinner isn’t a soul-sucking daily task, but a quick step to be ready to pull out my colors and play. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is that even at the end of the day, bad art is better than no art.