Make Something.

Today’s break challenged us to “do something hands-on.”

I am not a creative person. I work within boundaries, follow recipes, duplicate designs via tutorials. I wrote about my inability to create a couple years ago; nothing has changed. So this challenge was, well, challenging.

Yesterday I saw a tutorial for how to create custom watercolor effects in Adobe Illustrator. I thought that would be a good use of my time, so I headed out to Joann’s, armed with a nice coupon, and bought a watercolor palette and some brushes.

When I needed a break, I grabbed some paper, filled a paper cup with water, and set about creating.

It did not go well.

The watercoloring went well enough, but the tutorial was created for the latest version of Illustrator, and I have two versions back. Sometimes that’s not an issue. This time, it was. After 30 minutes, I needed a break from my break, so I went back to the watercolors.

I turned on Faure’s Requiem to calm me a bit (it’s quite beautiful), and started to paint again. I painted a series of horizontal lines, broad brush strokes in complementary colors. Then, worried that it looked too blank, I painted squiggly vertical lines. It looked awful.

New piece of paper: wanting to experiment with gradient effects, I painted watery blobs of color, taking care to not let the colors bleed too much. Except I learned quickly that I can’t actually control water blobs of color, and soon I had a mushy mix of nothing.

New piece of paper: I painted a giant heart. It looked too stark on the page, so I cleaned the brush, picked a new color, and drew a heart inside the big heart. I repeated the process, creating a babushka doll effect of hearts, but it didn’t look right. It looked cluttered.

By this time, the requiem was over, and the final song on album played: Cantique de Jean Racine. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and started humming the alto part. This song remains one of the most exquisite pieces of music I’ve ever sung with a choir. Take a listen. You won’t regret it. (It is in French.)

New piece of paper: I drew a giant heart in a bright pink, with cerulean rays surrounding it, and left it at that.

I tend to overcomplicate a lot of things in my life, then wonder why my metaphorical wheels get stuck. Next time, I will try singing a song, then simplifying the task at hand, and see if that makes a difference.

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