Wednesday, May 19, 2010

How To Boil Water

One of my favorite principles is the one I seem to forget most. I’m talking about the K.I.S.S. principle, or Keep It Simple, Stupid. I preach it, but don’t always practice it. Whenever anyone tells me they can’t cook, my first question is, “Can you boil water?” Usually the answer is yes, to which I say, “Then you can cook. Boil some water, throw in some pasta. When it’s done, toss it with butter, salt, pepper, some crushed garlic, fresh basil if you have it, and Parmesan. Badda-boom, badda-bing… there, you just cooked. The great unwashed, hungering hoards will love you!” If your first attempt at cooking is hollandaise sauce and a soufflé (both overrated in my book), you’re probably going to end up frustrated and hating cooking. Take it slow and easy, and keep it simple.

I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.
~Laura Ingalls Wilder

The other day I slaved over a card design - one of three that I was making in an attempt to lure a new client. It was intricate, lush with color, a thing of beauty to behold (*cough, choke, cough*). I made another that was about medium in terms of difficulty, and then I made a really easy, simple one. The color was all the same, tone on tone, and there wasn’t much in the way of adornment on it. I thought, “Well, they’ll look at that one and see how amazing the other is and go for that.” I’m an idiot. Instead, the client wrote back, choosing what I saw as the ugly duckling card and said, “I love this! It’s so simple and elegant!”

Life itself is the proper binge.
~Julia Child

We strive so hard in our lives. We make everything so complicated. In our attempt at bigger and better we so often lose sight of small and wondrous. I watched an art show the other day and the artist made the comment, to wit, “I try to let the material do all the talking. Sometimes it’s almost as if I’m just a bystander in the art I make.” I’ve heard much the same idea from sculptors before, that the stone or wood or clay tells them what it wants to be. I know a woman who creates beautiful water colors by slathering paint all over the paper, then inking in trees, or fish, or faces, or what have you, depending on what the blots and streaks dictate. I need to shut up and let my art talk do the talking.

The most glorious successes are but a reflection of an inner fire.
~Kenneth Hildebrand

My brother Tom is a very successful business man. He designs bicycle wheel rims out of lighter alloys. He started from the ground up, initially making them in his garage, then moving to a bigger building, then moving to an even bigger building, as he strove to meet the demands required for exporting them all over the world. A couple of years ago when we had a chance to meet up, I asked him, “So, did you expect to be this big of a hit when you started out all those years ago? Was a 10,000 square foot factory and warehouse in your dreams?” Tom answered with a shrug and a wry smile, “Nah… I just wanted to build a better wheel.”

K.I.S.S. Boil water. Be quiet. Listen. Build a better wheel.

We fritter our lives away with detail. Simplify, simplify.
H.D. Thoreau


  1. Thank you. :^)

    Not just for this post, either.

  2. And thank you, oh Anonymous One! Also not just for this post either. :-)

  3. Okay, wow. These small stones--I just read all 21 of them--are smart, quirky, and playful. Great stuff, Miss Barb. I'm looking forward to seeing the rest.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.