“Buried Treasure” by S, R, and Jesse Baggs. Colored marker on construction paper; 9” x 12”.

“Buried Treasure.” Colored marker on construction paper; 9” x 12”.

My self esteem when making art isn’t great: I either hate my ideas for being unoriginal or my skills for being less than perfect. I had some success avoiding my inner critic by creating oil pastel drawings where I sit down to a blank piece of paper and start writing or doodling whatever comes to mind without a plan to create anything specific. When the page fills up I keep doodling, laying lines on top of lines while waiting for a theme to emerge. However, pastels can be pretty messy and the whole process felt intimidating, like trying to conjure the muse.

But then about five years ago, my kids and I used leftover colored markers from various sets to doodle on a piece of construction paper and we made this piece. It may not look like a lot but it made me realize I could use the same process to tap into my subconscious using colored markers instead of pastels. The end product is different (markers don’t layer as well as pastels and are much less forgiving), but for some reason I found markers less intimidating. And for five years I’ve been having fun making art that feels much more original and far less concerned with technical proficiency. It reminds me of the quote attributed to Picasso, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”