When 70% is Good Enough


During the past few of weeks at Chris Zydel’s intuitive painting classes, I’ve discovered two more important lessons in my creative process:

  • A lot can be produced in just 10 minutes
  • All you need to get started is 70%

A couple of weeks ago, as class was winding down, I found myself checking out and feeling done with my painting for the day (even though there clearly was room for more!).

Chris came over and asked, “What’s next?  What are three things that could show up in this painting now?”

I pondered, “Maybe a cloud or a dragon’s head or a bird? ”

“Which one has the most juice for you?” Chris inquired.

I responded, “The dragon’s head, I guess.”

“Great, so that’s what’s next!”

“But there’s only 10 more minutes of class,” I proclaimed (or should I say whined!), thinking I wouldn’t have time to finish something new.

“That’s okay, just see what you can do,” Chris encouraged.

I grabbed a brush, dabbed some red paint and went to work.  Lo and behold within less than five minutes I had finished the dragon’s head and included fire coming out of its mouth!  Who knew I could get so much accomplished in such a short amount of time?  What a good reminder, if I just spend even 10 minutes on something – a creative project, writing, planning – that I could actually get more done than I thought.  And I have a great place to start from the next time I can pick back up again.

The next week, I showed up to class late, tired and a bit discombobulated.  I had forgotten my wallet at home and had to turn back.  By the time I finally got to the studio, I realized I had left my iPhone in the car and had to walk back to get it.  I was already eating away at my painting time and was getting mad at myself.

I sighed as I started to gather my brushes and paints and said to Chris that I was feeling like I wasn’t fully present yet.  I was only about 70% there.  And of course the wise and loving Chris said, “Hey, that’s good enough!”  I sat down and got to painting.  Before I knew it, I was sucked in.  Images and color poured on to the paper one after the other.  I don’t even know when the shift happened, but I went from 70% barely there to 100% in the creative flow.

Often times when I’m not feeling totally in a creative mood or I’m slightly distracted, I’ll think that I’m not in the space to create.  So, I don’t.  I don’t write.  I don’t paint.  I don’t do yoga.  I don’t work on a project that I need to.  Because I’m waiting to already be engaged at 100% in order to get started.  What I took away from class last week was that it’s okay (and even enjoyable and quite productive) to ease into it.  To begin from where I’m at, 70%, 50% or merely 10% and go from there.  Momentum will build and if it doesn’t that’s okay, too.  At least I got started!

I’m really appreciating all of the lessons that are emerging through this creative process and I look forward to discovering more gems in class this week.

13 thoughts on “When 70% is Good Enough”

  1. Love this reminder!!! I will now remember that embracing being engaged at 70% fully and simply begin with a step towards that which I want, magic can and often does happen.

    Thanks, Jennifer.

  2. This is such a great post, Jen. I feel that way too at times when I create…I feel I have to be 100% “there” when even 5% can be a starting point.

    I can’t wait to hear more about how things work with your training in intuitive painting. I am toying with the idea of doing it myself (I wish there was someone in this area that teaches it).


  3. what a great post, jenn! this is something i’ve learned too (although, i always need reminding!) 🙂

  4. Really love your blog! I feel like I’m also always waiting for the perfect creative moment to write or paint, but, with everything in life, there is no “perfect” moment. The moment is right now so seize it! 🙂

  5. This is so true. You don’t have to be 100%. You just have to show up, and sometimes the 100% grows as you commit to being there.

  6. What great lessons – I’m so thankful that you are sharing what you are learning with us! It’s funny, reading your post all I could think about was that I was LONGING to paint – my arm has even started to ache in response to that thought – hmmm… wonder if I have unpacked the paintbrushes yet.

  7. I followed you over from wish studio (I’m also a write there!) and I have to say, I just loved loved loved this post. OMG-YES! When I can get past that part of my brain that says I have to have everything perfect and be okay with ‘70%’, I can do so much more than I thought.

  8. And I followed you over from Brandi’s blog 🙂 This is a great thought that i shall try hard to bear in mind. I’ve been having a hard time getting started on anything recently and I think this may be a large part of why. I shall gently remind myself that I don’t have to be 100% ready before starting.

    I’m off to look at more of your site now – thanks again 🙂

  9. Yes,Jen, you have brought up a constant problem for artists. Feeling we have to be

    in the right frame of mind to do art. Waiting around for it to happen does not work.

    I love the 70% ready or less idea. This does work. I like to use the Niki ad “just do It”

    Thanks love reading you thoughts

  10. Hmmm…I really like this idea. How are you really 100% ready to engage? Rarely but mustering up 70% seems pretty doable just by showing up and getting started.

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