A Lesson in Improv: Inspired by Erica

“Yes and…” – Created for Erica – Pen & Color Pencil – 11’x’14

My friend and soul sister, Erica, celebrated a birthday a couple of months ago. In the weeks leading up to celebrating an idea for a drawing as a gift formed. With enough steam to start immediately! Optimistic that I could stretch it out and still finish it in time! Fast-forward to the night before and me all feathers and frustration. Frantically trying to fill in the details. And not feeling satisfied… A feeling I often have to unpack when it pertains to a piece of art. Especially when creating for someone else.

Which part of Me is flustered? The perfectionist? The uninvited critic? The creative? The heart? The creative & the heart, the rightful leaders in this situation, were sending up flares. Requesting a pause and a revisit to the motivation. 

The motivation for Erica’s piece stemmed from 2 places:

  1. Erica is a burst of colorful energy. A hilarious woman with so much heart, so much brain, and so much talent. Making a piece of art for her felt like I was the one being given the gift. Channeling her filled me with creative energy! Since meeting Erica almost 2 years ago, I’ve been inspired to listen to the fire in my belly. Be bold! Be intuitive! Be You! Have some fucking fun!
  2. Before the idea of a drawing, I planned on creating a Found Poem unique to Erica. a Found Poem, in my interpretation, involves first collecting words/sentences from a specific source (newspaper, music lyrics, interviews, etc…). Then using only those words/sentences, build a poem. Like an unconventional stalker (with good intentions) I took to Erica’s instagram and found so many lovely words. Words that wanted to burst into a visual piece of art. And I had so many recently-sharpened colored pencils at my fingertips!

The drawing continued to evolve in my mind. A few key elements secured themselves:

  • The colors of a sunset. The sun.
  • Incorporate her ‘Meetles’. Meetles (pictured below) are the adorable plush creatures Erica makes (and now sells! Check out her Instagram (@mamarico2018) & her new etsy page: etsy.com/people/mamarico).
  • Elements reflecting transformation (i.e. phoenix or butterfly or a tree reaching upwards)
  • “Yes and…” somewhere…theatre/stage/improv*
  • Mixed media: include the poem

*About Improvising…

Erica’s piece (pictured at the top of the blog post)…was actually an entirely different piece of art at first. I hit a few roadblocks. I lost some of the creative steam. In an effort to finish the piece on time I had chucked the pencil step and dove in with pen immediately. Using new and fancy pens! That did new and fancy flourishes…in places not anticipated! In my flustration I took a page out of Erica’s book: No need to despair – improvise!

My first exposure to improv in High School was a bit…well, it turned me off of improv for a fair amount of years. My sense of humor a quiet seed buried deep inside. I usually lost my nerve before I reached the stage! 

So I approached the ‘oopsies’ with ‘alright, let’s see where this takes us’. Most importantly I told myself to see it to the end. Don’t chuck it completely. Who knows! Art is fun and wild and isn’t there some affirmation pinned on my wall about creativity taking courage? Eep.

So I reached one ‘finishing point’ (pictured below)…and was still not satisfied. The creative part of me felt like I produced some nice bits; however, they got lost in the chaos of color. Don’t get me wrong, Chaos of Color is on my list of potential memoir titles. But the heart whispered: It’s lovely, and such a nice use of green…but…um…I think we got a little lost.  Hey, sometimes the creative part gets a bit too high on paint fumes and becomes distracted! And even a fire in the belly needs a little focus.


I rounded the corner towards a rough ‘finished piece #2’ (pictured below). I took a risk with scissors (after an hour of staring at them). I attempted to create space for the details to stand out. I attempted to create less space by adding the poem (a self-made puzzle complete with an episode of panic over a missing piece).


I set down the scissors. I capped the glue. I stood back, my hands wrist deep in my red curl-nest of hair. Well past the deadline at this point…I decided to try an entirely different approach. A little thing called:

Radical Acceptance

Radical Acceptance, as I have come to understand it and apply it to my life, is accepting something simply as it is, without judgement. And when in your power to change it, you can do so congruently with the acceptance. No bad. No good. Helps the flow of creativity. Helps this artist avoid flopping fish-like in a puddle of unnecessary suffering.

Pause Pause Pause and then:

Lo and Behold: a transformed and fully-realized piece appeared in my mind and I set to work with a pencil immediately. Deciding the poem (pictured at the end of the post) and the art didn’t need to share the same physical space.

The evolution of the second piece didn’t lack in it’s own set of ‘oopsies’. However, I felt, throughout the creative improvising, a more resounding confidence that the idea painted in my brain was showing up on the paper.

When I added the last detail on Penny dog’s set of butterfly wings…

I felt satisfied!


It’s a gift to have creative talent in my veins. But even more valuable is the beautiful souls I’ve been gifted with in my life. People so full of their own unique and inspiring qualities and interests. Making art for them is the most fun I can experience! If you would like a drawing for yourself or someone you care about…send me a message! In a comment on here, on my instagram (@nutmeg_etc) or by email (megpos23@gmail.com). 

Thank you for reading!



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