I had a couple days between projects and decided it was time to deal with that canvas. I’d built a huge canvas over a year ago, sketched in my subject and stared at it.

It sat in the studio waiting for me…Taunting me… Daring me to start painting.

But it was intimidating. Five feet tall by seven feet long. That’s a lot of whitespace to fill. And I didn’t even have a wall that big left to hang it. What was I doing to do with it if I ever DID finish it?

So it sat. Waiting in the dark. Until yesterday.

I pulled it down, set up cardboard all over the foyer (best light) and set up the easel. Got all the paint (including a lot of little cans of strangely colored housepaint)… And I started.

Up most of the night and again at it this morning. A fevered pitch of fast brush strokes and fast decisions. That rush is back. That dancing on the tightrope rush that I love.

But I hit a decision point. Should I bring in purple. I know in the big scheme of things, who the hell cares. But to this labor, it could be a make it or paint over it decision. Then I had the idea, take a picture and put it on Facebook and let my friends decide… Should I outline in purple or not.

Then it hit me.

What a terrible idea. And I should have known better before even thinking about it.

I’ve seen that happen a thousand times in corporate creative decisions.

One person is inspired to find a solution and everyone pipes in. I’ve always called the “fire hydrant in the wilderness and every wolf wants to hike his leg on it” scenario.

Everyone wants to be part of the solution and bring in their input.


Everyone gets to equally water the concept down and turn a unique solution into mush. Take this headline and use that type font and that image and that layout from a dozen ideas and, because it’s the best of each one, it should be the best solution.

Or it could be mush.

I vote mush.

All the greatest things we’ve got in life got there because some lunatic fought for an idea and got it delivered. Not because a lot of unqualified people put in their input and turned it to mush.

So I kiboshed that Facebook idea. I’ll finish it the way I see it in my head. If it sucks when I’m done, I’ll paint it all over and start again. That idea and that vision is in there somewhere waiting to land on canvas. I just need to coax it out and not turn to a committee.

The spelling should be a clue. Too many “m’s” and “t’s” and “e’s.”

So painters, paint. Idea guys, go think. Managers, keep things on track. And everyone gets to have an opinion, but not everyone gets to hike their leg on that hydrant.