THIS WEEK EXPAND YOUR COMFORT ZONE!
Expanding your Art Comfort Zone gives you a roomier world. It’s my theory that if you don’t actively expand this zone, it begins to shrink – and you start scrunching up instead of stretching out.
So, the assignment this week is to take a step into some territory that you want to explore but haven’t because the terrain makes you uneasy. It can be a place that is out of your CZ either physically or emotionally. Paint in the park, enter a show, do something with the computer that helps your art… don’t risk your health or sanity, just stretch out a bit.
You don’t need to go far; one step is a good start. Relax with that step and see if you feel the increased spaciousness.
Of course, you’ll have to be uncomfortable for awhile to get this bigger space in which to live your life, but the expansion time can be full of excitement and wonder too.
My time at PleinAir Magazine’s Invitational in the Adirondacks included so much laughter and listening and learning that I will be absorbing the experience all summer. It was also unnerving to the core, but now my world seems more open and my painting batteries are fully charged.
The first morning, I gathered body and soul into suitable painting clothes, rang my Tibetan singing bowl, and stepped out of my cloistered comfort zone feeling like an intrepid explorer. Accustomed to quietly gazing while alone in nature, I had fantasized about finding a beautiful pine tree to bond with. Focusing in the hurly burly of a group seemed a challenge, so I found a tucked away corner and set up in my little world.
As the rain splattered and pattered against the umbrella, I thought that I might be about the only one out working on such a day. Quite proud of this accomplishment, I signed the piece and trotted it in to show at the Bobcat Bar (and temporary Museum).
I was dumbstruck by the quality and quantity of the other paintings on display – all of them done that day in the rain!. My confidence washed away faster than I would have thought possible. Where had these people come from? How had they made these varied, strong and lush paintings? Why were they not showing signs of visible suffering?
Deciding that perhaps the slow drying acrylics and the green light seeping through the green umbrella had tricked my vision, I tried again the next day using regular acrylics and the palette knife as I do in the studio. But I remained too unnerved to bring it back to the Bobcat. Now I wonder why I lost my center, but I did.
I continued to paint and thoroughly enjoy the company of the other painters. In fact, my fascination with everyone there became greater than my desire to bond with a pine tree.
By the last day, I was eager to paint with the group and headed out towards a gathering place. I stopped just short of the location as the view was compelling.
Soon it began to rain, but I was now in the swing of things and stayed on through the deluge. After awhile, however, I began to think of that farm just up the road where they were hosting our group. I envisioned the fire and the pot of coffee, and soon I was imagining pastries too! I drove up to join the party before all those pastries were gone, but
to my amazement, everyone was outside painting. In the rain. No fire, coffee or pastries.
I loved painting that day and now don’t fear the rain, or painting in a group, or putting out work that gets lost in a crowd of beautiful paintings.
Overheard: “We were lucky with the weather.” Huh? “Everyday the report has said thunderstorms, and it has only rained!”
Also overheard: “I was painting in Canada and walked to Morocco for lunch”? She was painting at Epcot.
In the next issue of PleinAir magazine, you will be able to see some of the amazing pieces that were created during the event.
Eric Rhoads put on this event, and he is putting together a plein air convention and expo at Red Rock (Los Vegas) in April. I will definitely try to make it! And everyone is invited.
Please share your experiences with expanding your comfort zone by leaving a comment.