About 15 years ago I painted this little graphic on the wall in my kitchen. I painted a dark teal stripe to break up the space on one wall and wanted to add a little extra something to bring the spaces together. Since I love circles, I decided to play with them. My favorite shapes and favorite colors both came together so effortlessly...
It seems like that graphic would have been a perfect jumping off point to investigate further, but in my mind the ease and effortlessness only meant that I wasn’t pushing myself enough. Once, I had a design teacher that upon reviewing my portfolio said, “Ah, yes, I know you are used to getting A’s, but I am not sure you are working hard enough.” At the time, I was not very skilled at speaking up for myself, so I quietly soaked up her words without any question. From that day forward, I made it a point to work even harder, making sure I didn’t reach for the simple solution.
Lately, I have been thinking a lot about simplicity and effortlessness in a new light—curious how these terms have gotten a bum rap in my mind. I’ve noticed that when I am working with a mindset of ease, all my work flows. It doesn’t mean that I am trying to rush or cut corners; rather it’s a desire to work with my strengths and be in a state of ease rather than stress.
Part of my turning away from the simple, graphic style I painted in my kitchen is that since it came so easily and naturally, I felt I was cheating somehow. I thought I had better dig in and find a more difficult way to make my art—I needed to experience some sort of struggle with it to prove I was working. So I walked away from the simple graphic color in order to try other styles.
Of course in the effort to make it more difficult, I was squeezing a lot of the joy out of my process.
Over the past few months, I have been working to reconnect to the joy of making while I am knee deep in creating. I am realizing it is more important to be full of joy rather than full of struggle because joy is what I want people to feel when they view my art. And the feelings that I create with are what will last.
I am realizing that simple doesn’t mean a lack of skill or attention to detail. Nor does it mean that I am not continually searching how to stretch my skills and grow. I feel that aligning with simplicity is helping me distill my skills and my voice by clearing out the clutter and distractions..
Simple is perfect.