Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher

What’s the worst that could happen?


I have been exploring. Creating. Playing.

Some time ago, I bought alcohol inks — a woman in a course I was taking had used the inks in one of the mandala’s she had created during the course and I was curious. I loved the vibrancy of the colours and the watercolour effect they evoked. The first time I tried using them, I didn’t like how they worked. They soaked into canvas without spreading and I didn’t want to work on the special surface they needed.

I put them aside.

A few weeks ago, I was experimenting and decided to give the inks another go. I was working on cards for my Choices trainees and needed something that would give me the kind of look and colours I needed for flowers.

I fell in love.

It wasn’t that the inks had changed. It was that I had changed the surface I was working on. Rather than applying the inks to straight water colour paper or a canvas, I had painted an undercoat with acrylic paint and then applied a thick coat of gloss medium.

On a whim, I decided to try the inks just to see what would happen — my motto being…. what’s the worst that could happen?

Suddenly, a happy surprise ensued. The coat of medium created a non-porous surface against which the inks can flow and bond. Rather than getting stuck on the surface and creating a blog of muddy, dead colour, they edged up against each other and glided across the surface — and, because they are alcohol based, they dried quickly so their colours remain vibrant the their flow isn’t too unpredictable.

Art mirrors life. We go searching for the new, don’t like what we find, put it away, throw it out, or because we don’t understand it, or are afraid of it, don’t dare pick it up before moving  on. Then, one day, we encounter something that reminds us of ‘that old thing’ we didn’t like before, and we decide to give it another try. Or, that old thing appears on our path again and we are forced to give it another go.

And suddenly, a happy surprise ensues.

Or not.

The thing is, neither is a mistake. Not using it or doing it, or using it and doing it. They are both the right path taken at different times.

What counts is the willingness to be open to experimenting, to be conscious of the possible.

I didn’t like how the inks worked when first I tried them — it wasn’t the inks — it was me using a surface they weren’t designed to be used upon.

In being open to experimenting, I accidentally discovered a surface they do work on — even though non of the literature about using the inks suggest doing it my way, that’s okay. It works for me.

Some things work for everyone. Some things work for some. This worked for me.

It is something I often forget. I think I need to do it ‘the right way’, the right way being the way I’ve been taught, or how I’ve read or heard it should be.

But it doesn’t always work for me. Sometimes, I have to be willing to go out on a limb and simply risk. In the risk, I discover my truth. My path. My experience.

And sometimes, I really like what happens.

Sometimes, I don’t and get to choose all over again.

I’ve been experimenting with happy surprises.

I’m kinda’ likin’ the exploration! 🙂



Author: Louise Gallagher

I believe in wonder. I believe we are all magnificent beings of divine beauty. I believe we can make a difference in this world, through every act, word, thought. I believe we create ripples with everything we do and say and want to inspire everyone to use their ripple to create a better world for everyone. I'm grateful you're here.

17 thoughts on “What’s the worst that could happen?

  1. Dear Louise…..how you inspire me! I’m at a wonderful and scary entrance to a new way of living , of being. Starting back into creative projects, after so long, sets off all kinds of useless head chatter. Thanks for the nudge into showing up, having fun and colouring outside the lines!


  2. Love this post…LOVE your paintings!! Thanks Louise!!! 🙂


  3. Beautiful art! I,or taint to follow the muse and ignore the rules.


  4. Love it! There is something to the concept of doing it ‘the right way’ first as there is an ‘egoless’ nature to that form of learning. But what I love most about this post is the divergent nature of “what’s the worst thing that can happen?” When we know there went any dire outcomes it so frees us for possibilities of completely new ideas to emerge like happened for you.


    • So true Ian — in my painting, I find myself struggling often on that edge of ‘doing it the right way’ and fear of not doing it the right way. Of making a mess and not fearing making a mess. ‘what’s the worst thing that can happen’ allows me the grace to laugh at my ego’s desire to be in control as I dive over the edge of being out of control and not worrying about the outcome, and having faith in — the outcome will be what it will be. The joy is in diving into the process and trusting all will be well.


  5. The card I received is vibrant and is displayed at my bedside.When I think of you, it always puts a SMILE on my face.
    Thanks for sharing your many talents.
    Hugs, Yolanda


  6. Love the willingness to explore and try again at a different time!
    Let go and give it a go …. “what’s the worst thing that can happen.”
    Thank for the reminder Louise.
    There’s a difference between “getting” it and “doing” it!
    Thank you for doing it 🙂
    Val x


  7. “What’s the worst that can happen?”
    This is a fantastic mantra for having a go and extend; something I do not do often.
    Thanks for the prompt.


  8. Nice art work indeed I wish I could paint but I can’t and I can’t draw either


This conversation needs your brilliance to shine. Please share your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s