Why am I always looking for the fast way to do things? And why can’t I remember that I’m constantly tripping myself up in my search for a shortcut?

I asked myself the first question after taking Alex Boon’s class during Wild Wonder 2023. My search for fast color for my nature journal has led me from colored pencils to watercolor paints and back again. I took Boon’s colored pencil class, hoping for insights that would help me get color onto the page quickly.

Ironically, the most important thing Boon said is that colored pencils take time. If you want to produce rich, realistic color, you have to lay down multiple light layers, a process that can’t be rushed. Even though I had already learned this over the summer when I colored in some pages using my Prismacolor pencils, his statement really hit me.

Coloring book page with ruby-throated hummingbird hovering by red-orange trumpet flowers.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird page from the Smithsonian Birds coloring book. I used seven different layers on the leaves, nine on the flowers.

Why am I in such a hurry? If you are going to work in the field, it helps to work fast. The animals and birds I put in my nature journals do not sit still. But I don’t have to do everything in the field. Many people save the color for when they get home.

What if I just accepted that however I choose to color my drawings, it is going to take time? What if I relaxed and let myself enjoy the process?

Once I’d had this idea, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Everywhere I looked, I could see how I was trying to hurry, looking for shortcuts, hoping to make the thing I was doing go quickly even though it was something I enjoyed.

Much to my dismay, I’ve had this insight and then forgotten it again many times in the past. My blog documents these moments quite clearly.

It’s in Artistic Development Takes Time, which includes Chris Blackwell’s pithy quote “If you love what you do, what’s the hurry?” Another way of saying it is “One does not advance the swimming ability of ducks by throwing the eggs in the water.” (Edward Douwes Dekker) Even my post on deadlines and creativity mentions that rushing to get to the product can hurt the process.

Swimming American wigeon (Mareca americana) with Eduard Douwes Dekker quote: One does not advance the swimming abilities of ducks by throwing the eggs in the water.

I want to blame our hurry up culture for my forgetfulness. E-mail, texting, and search engines have us expecting instant communication and instant information while social media has trained our brains to have short attention spans.

The real issue is the constant stream of messages that tell me to be afraid of missing out on something. The idea of FOMO is everywhere. Supposedly, if we are efficient enough, fast enough, focused enough, we don’t have to miss anything.

But all of this is a lie. There’s always more to do than there is time or energy to do it. I’m going to miss out on something. Better to miss out because I was enjoying myself with the activity of the moment. If I rush myself, I will miss out on everything.

Have you ever rushed activities you actually enjoy?

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