Yesterday, I painted the cherries that form the header image for this blog. Nothing fancy, but I’ve been wanting to do them for ages and just didn’t. They seemed too simple. In fact, I didn’t even bother doing them in my watercolour sketchbook – that being kept for more complicated projects. No, I painted them on a torn off piece of cheap watercolour paper.
I’m currently doing a flower challenge, where I sketch one flower every day in a sketchbook that I keep for only the flowers, so that I can see my progress. And even there, I noticed that I’d rather find a photograph of some strange, exotic looking flower, with lots of little bits going in different directions than take on the challenge of something as simple as, say, a tulip.
Why is that? Why do we so often choose something complicated over something simple?
For me, the answer is that simple is scary. Simple leaves me no place to hide. If I am to draw a tulip there aren’t a whole lot of places to hide a mistake. But if I take on something more complicated, well, there’s obviously a lot of places to hide.
Not only to hide, but also to confuse the viewer, which can be me or anyone else. It’s easy to look at something complicated and go, “oh, that’s good. Look at all those many little lines.” But to look at a simple tulip it’s harder to be satisfied.
Simplicity presents a different, more vulnerable, challenge.
I’ve seen this attitude transfer into my every day life. Simple tasks fall behind, while I put all my focus on what seems to be complicated. The question is, though, are those tasks really more complicated? Because when I think back to some of my sketches, I took about as much time drawing the simple ones as I did the complicated ones.
And when I tackle complex things on my to-do list, they’re never more than a series of simple tasks.
Which leads me to the conclusion that nothing is ever complicated. It’s only one simple thing, or a series of simple acts that I need to take.
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