Posted in Imperfection

Vignette of an Imperfect Life: Risk and Creativity

The brush in my hand feels cool and smooth. I dip it into the water jar to my right, lifting it out I scrape the side of the brush on the lip of the container. Excess water falls. Moving to the palette I swirl the brush in paint, picking up colour, then transfer that colour onto a Corelle plate. I repeat the process, cobalt blue, cadmium yellow, Windsor red, each holding a circle of space on the plate, an array of colours. Once again cleaning my brush with water I shift my attention to the faint pencil-drawing of a bird on the cold-press paper in front of me. I “paint” the bird with clear water making sure it spills outside the lines. I want to paint “loose,” messy. So begins the process of putting different colours into the wet area, letting them mix, then dry, then evaluate what I see, and do it again. And my bird slowly comes to life….

I started watercolour painting four years ago. I never thought of myself as creative or artistic, yet something deep inside, a wisp of a voice, told me there was an artist there. So I found a class at the local community college and signed up. My first semester I felt like a five-year-old in kindergarten, full of wonder and apprehension. And honestly, I was terrible. One of our first assignments was to paint a pumpkin, a circle, some curved lines with shadowing, and a stem. Simple right? No. And I cried.

I’ve come a long way. Painting makes me come alive. It also makes me feel vulnerable, fearful I’ll “mess up” and my painting will be horrible, like my first pumpkin. I risk anyway. Brene Brown, in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, says, “unused creativity doesn’t just disappear. It lives within us until it is expressed, neglected to death, or suffocated by resentment and fear.” I cannot let the creating part of me suffocate and whither away in neglect. Instead I set her free, let her take up the space that is me. She gets to be imperfect, to make mistakes, and create something beautiful.

In an imperfect life there is the risk of creativity, and making something beautiful.

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