Extreme Lengths

Lately, I have been getting a little off track in terms of the mission of my blog: to discuss autism from a sibling’s perspective. It has become more and more difficult to write about sibling stuff recently. One of the reasons could be that the 150+ I have written may have exhausted the material (and perhaps the reader); or maybe I’m avoiding concentrating on relevant things about which to write.


Some people will do anything to avoid certain things. Procrastination is hard, but enjoyable work. I should know, I am a master at it. Take, for example, watercolor painting, a topic I broached yesterday. I assume that most people who wish to paint with watercolors will get a set of paints, some paper, look at a few books, maybe a few Internet videos and get started on a painting a picture.

For me, the hardest thing is to get started on a picture I would like to paint. If I have something in mind, it is usually so, so difficult to imagine where to start. For instance, where does one begin to paint even such a simple thing as a sunset or clouds?

The easiest thing for me to do is to test my colors. For each of my colors, I paint a test strip, so if I (ever) paint, and I’m looking for a particular hue, I can consult my paint chip collection:

fanned-out collection of color test strips

Have I mentioned that I like collecting stuff? Watercolor paints are not exempt from this predilection of mine. The resulting accumulation of test strips must be accessible and easy to view. Therefore, an appropriate binding mechanism must be designed, watercolor ground must be purchased and applied to the book covers, and the covers themselves must be painted as so:

view of color test strip book

More testing

Now, since blue and yellow don’t make green in real life, blending of each yellow with each blue must be done. At the beginning, I was really rigorous, and my process consisted of blending blues and yellows by measuring their ratios, in droplets. For example a 1-to-3 mixture of blue and yellow would be 25% blue/yellow; 2:2 would be a 50-50 mixture and 3:1 would be 75% blue/yellow.  Now, suppose I had just 10 blues and 10 yellows… that’s 100 strips. Don’t forget, there is blue and red for purple, red and yellow for orange; there’s blue and orange for gray, red and green for gray, and yellow and purple for gray. With all the colors I have, I’d be old and gray before I could even paint. Wait, I am old and gray… what shade, you ask? Don’t ask.

book of watercolor blending strips

You see what I mean? Procrastinating is hard work!


The systematic approach will enable me to learn about the paints: how similarly named paints by different manufacturers differ and how different paints interact. I will know what to expect from any combination of paints in my paint box. I will be able to create any color that I have in my books of charts. However, there is a lack of spontaneity with this approach. The chances for a “happy accident”, an unanticipated combination of paints, for instance, is not as likely to occur if everything is planned.

Of course, another approach would be to paint by trial and error; learn about paint blending by squeezing a blob of this paint next to a blob of that paint and see what happens. Geez, that’s scary.

Some modes of creativity are harder, read scarier, than others. Sometimes one may not even know that there are other ways to approach a subject.  I’m betting that it is not easy for some autistic people to leave the comfort of organized, logical thinking and allow for spontaneity, but I have little doubt that creativity is available to most of us on the human spectrum.

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