What Color Pencils Taught Me about Things You Can’t Control

Okay, Kate. How in the world are color pencils connected to control and perfectionism???

If you’ll just read on, it’ll make sense. I promise. Or I hope it does. So here goes.

What Color Pencils Taught Me About Things You Can't Control | Inspiration, Personal Growth, Perfectionism

Yep. I’m a perfectionist.

Or well, I used to be a hardcore one…? Now, I’ve loosened up a bit. (I think. Kind of.) The thing is, I’ve always tried to look into every miniscule detail of what I do.

I wanted to make sure that everything, every last little thing, every single tiny microscopic little thing* was perfect. To a T. That includes my art. So while I’m drawing something, various anxious perfectionist questions pop out of my head like,

Is the anatomy alright?
Are the color combinations aesthetically pleasing?
Did I get the skin color right?
Are there any unnecessary marks?
Is that stray hair strand dramatic as I want it to look?
Or is it just totally awkward?
Oh god, it does look awkward, doesn’t it?
Why does the cactus look like a rotten, withered cucumber??
And why does her skin color look like Donald-freakin-Trump’s**???

I know right. Why am I stressing over a hair strand. Ugh.

The thing is, I used to avoid color pencils because, like watercolor before, they’ve given me artistic trauma***.

*Please tell me you knew this reference. Halloween is coming.
**True story.
***Yes, it is a phrase. And yes, I’m exaggerating 😉

You know how when you use regular color pencils you have to put light pressure when sketching because it’ll be hard to erase if you don’t?

Yep, I learned that the hard, artistically traumatic way.

See, I’m the kind of person who has a really pressured penmanship. Sometimes I’m super focused on writing that I literally tear the paper in half.

It’s scary, I know.

And I also sketch that way. So you can just imagine little ten-year-old Kate who tried color pencils for the first time in her art class and ended up making this hot mess because she spent most of the time frustratingly erasing the color pencil.

Literally how I felt afterwards

Scarred, little Kate vowed to never touch a color pencil for the rest of her life. (Lol I should stop talking about myself in third person, it’s creepy)

Anyway, the point here is: little Kate is such a hardcore perfectionist. And back then, I wanted control in every aspect of my life, even my drawings.

I avoided color pencils and watercolor back then like the plague because I knew I won’t be able to have as much control with them as I do with pencils and pen. I wanted something I can easily control. But now that I think about it, you really can’t have that.

There are things that are totally out of your control.

This was so hard for me to accept, by the way.

Most likely because I was a stubborn perfectionist.

It always frustrated me when things get out of hand and everything becomes a hot mess and before I knew it I’m crying like a toddler who didn’t get her candy. But I’ve come to accept that there really are things that are uncontrollable. That no matter how you stubbornly want to micromanage things, they may not go the way you want it to be.

And you know what? No amount of effort on your part will make the uncontrollable controllable.

It’s harsh, but the truth is often that.

So instead of whining about how you can’t control the uncontrollable, focus instead on what you can actually control.

I tried to sketch with color pencils last week (much to ten-year-old Kate’s despair, I’m sure) and I thought, “If color pencils aren’t easily erasable, I’ll just have to try to put as light a pressure as I possibly could.”

Let me tell you: that first time was sooo hard. I had to squint my eyes to see the lines and in several occasions, I was sooo tempted to darken them. But I can’t control the unerasable-ness of the color pencil. So I had to control my pressure instead.

The whole ten or so minutes was an exercise to my perfectionism and need for ultimate control. But when I finished the sketch, I was so delighted with how it turned out!

It looked so good and, compared to a graphite pencil sketch, it looked so soft and feminine! Why didn’t I do this before??

Oh right. My control-needing perfectionism was hindering me.

And maybe, if you’re a perfectionist (or at least an aspiring micromanager) like yours truly, it’s hindering you to try out new things too. Maybe you’re stuck in the morning traffic and you’re already late and you sorely wished to be like Hancock and just throw all the cars in front of you.

But you’re not Hancock. And the morning traffic happen every-freakin-day. So instead of trying (and failing) to control it, wake up early.

So I want you to think of all those things you didn’t do or plans you cancelled or frustrations you’ve had because of something you can’t control. Think of the color pencil you were avoiding like the plague. Now think of what you can change. Try to look at it at a different angle and see what controllable thing you can do instead.

Who knows? Maybe, like me, you’d delightfully think: “Why didn’t I do this before?” 😉

Let’s talk, yeah? Are you a perfectionist? Have you avoided something like the plague because you’re afraid you can’t completely control the outcome? What did you do? Do share them in the comments below!

Have an awesome day! <3

8 Replies to “What Color Pencils Taught Me about Things You Can’t Control”

  1. Very greet analogy and imagery!! Thank you for this lesson

  2. The Mystical Being says: Reply

    Hey! I nominated you for the awesome blogger award! Check out my post! Xx

  3. PREACH. I’m a perfectionist too. Thankfully not for everything, but for some things. It can be bad. Oh well 🙂

  4. The Mystical Being says: Reply

    Haha you’re very welcome! Xx

  5. SO TRUE! Oh my gosh, I’ve been in that exact place too many times xx

  6. Ha ha!! Sounded exactly like me. 😀 😀 Loved ur work and also the post 🙂 I am also trying to get a handle on color pencils these days!

    1. Thank you so much! Color pencils are so much fun! I hope you’re enjoying the entire process of getting a handle on them 🙂

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