When was the last time you sat firmly outside your cushy, nicely-furnished,
climate-controlled comfort zone?
For me, it was last Sunday between 10am and 1pm.
It involved the most amazing lamington I ever did meet, beautiful flowers and watercolours.
It sounds lovely and dandy, doesn’t it? (More on that lamington later….)
A few months ago, I booked into an introductory watercolour painting class. It was a spontaneous, on-a-whim decision. A “Hey-that-looks-like fun!” kinda decision. (I was actually meant to be shopping for a Mother’s Day present for my Mother Dearest, but I got a bit sidetracked. Does that happen to you???)
I’ve written previously about my uneasy, ego-bruising relationship with art classes and art teachers.
As I took my seat in the studio, it hit me.
“WHAT WAS I THINKING?? SIGNING UP FOR A PAINTING CLASS?
BUT I’M NOT CREATIVE! I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING!
I DON’T BELONG HERE!!!!”
My comfort zone GPS went into shut-down.
Our lovely teacher opened by acknowledging that the thoughts that were currently cartwheeling through my mind, were held by many students who had come before me.
This is how it began.
3 blobs of paint, a blank piece of paper and, after doing a good old colour wheel, we were given the green light to “have a play.”
It was paralysing.
The Monkey in My Mind started jumping around….
“What is the right way to do this?
Dip the brush in the water first? Or paint first?
Oh well done, Picasso, you’ve just turned the water in the shared jar muddy. What will that lady sitting next to you think?
What are you doing to your palette? It’s a mess.
WHAT are you painting? If anyone asks, just say you’re specialising in abstract art.
Oooooh- look at her painting. Isn’t she creative? She must have done this before.”
And so it went on.
The anxiety levels of those around me were palpable.
The conversations taking place around me, mirrored what was happening in my head.
Rather than experiment and have fun, we all wanted to be good at it.
To produce perfect paintings.
To not get it “wrong.”
To be seen as being imaginative and creative and receive adulation from our teacher and fellow students.
This was all despite the fact that our lovely teacher, Fiona, stressed that there was no wrong way of watercolouring.
Her whole philosophy was based on experimenting and having fun.
Fiona suggested that everyone focus on one part of their artwork and take a cropped photo of it. The above pic is my example. I wasn’t really that pleased with my artwork as a whole. But I really like this cropped shot. It was a good lesson in that age-old mantra about changing our perspective on things.
In a beautiful twist of Fate, we had two little girls in our class with their mums.
Do you think these lovely little people were worried about other people judging their colour choices and shape formation?
Do you think that fear of producing an ugly artwork was preventing them from picking up a paintbrush?
They were too busy painting.
Once it dawned on me that I was feeling icky because I was outside of my comfort zone, I decided to just paint.
And man, that was some zen-like stuff.
At what point does it get drummed into us that there is a right and a wrong way to do art?!
Fiona said a few things about the creative process that really resonated with me.
She said how halfway through the process, we would just want to throw our hands in the air and quit.
But what makes an artist an artist is that they persist and never give up.
This made me think about this post from last week.
I don’t want to be an artist. I want to be a children’s book author.
My picture book manuscripts are now out there in Publisher Land and I have thrown myself open to possible rejection.
I’m totally out of my comfort zone.
But the most successful writers are those who persist. And keep going.
So, I’ll just keep on going. And try and quieten that Monkey in My Mind.
So, I’m clearly pretty gifted. By the end of the class, I was producing these masterpieces.
Just kidding. These are the glorious works of the teacher that were displayed on the day. You can check out her talents on her website.
Now about that lamington…..
Here it is in all of it’s glory.
Note the two types of coconut? Shaved AND shredded.BUT WAIT! Just when you thought it couldn’t be any more spectacular…
Awaiting you on the inside is glorious lamington sponge AND blueberry compote AND custard.
My taste buds were besides themselves.
And if you follow me on Instagram, you know I’m partial to a commemorative spoon!
So share with me lovely readers, how often do you find yourself outside your comfort zone? What do you do when you’re “out there?”
This sounds like such a wonderful experience. I would love to do a class like this, but that nagging self doubt holds me back. I’m so glad you were able to step out of your comfort zone, just reading your post made me smile!
PS. That lamington sounds AMAZING!
It was so much fun (in the end!) That’s the tricky thing with comfort zones- it’s so hard to step outside of them, but once you do, you’re grateful that you did!
If you could reproduce this lamington on your wonderful blog, Lauren, I’d be your bestest friend. Forever and ever and ever!
Shaved AND shredded coconut!?!? totes doing this next time I make lamingtons!! I think your work is gorgeous! You ARE talented, and glad you stepped outside that comfort zone. will you do another course? Some days I feel like just stepping out the front door is stepping outside my comfort zone. I can’t actually think of a time recently that I stepped outside it….must rectify that. -Aroha (for #teamIBOT)
Thanks for your lovely words, Aroha! I would love to do another course- they have so many fun things on offer.
It’s funny how comfort zones are constantly shifting- I’m totally having one of those days where stepping outside the front door is outside my comfort zone (for today, anyway!)
And the whole shaved and shredded thing- was just decadent!
That lamington looks amazing as does your artwork! Aren’t you glad you gave it a go? What a fun afternoon xx
Thank you for your kind words, Lisa. It was so much fun (once I made up my mind to have a go and stop worrying about what everyone else was thinking about me and my art!) I’m asking for a watercolour set for Christmas now 😉 x
OMG OMG yum!!! I want to see the inside of that lamington! Drooling! Good on you for stepping out of your comfort zone. I have done exactly that this week by taking leave from my job til the end of the year! Eeeek!! Scary but exciting! xxx
Oooh, how exciting for you! Enjoy your leap of faith xx
I think I’m outside of my comfort zone reasonably often. Not in a shaky way, but in a ‘this is not my preferred place to be kind of way.’ I wouldn’t go to a painting class though cause that’s way out of my way!
And I love what you did, even if it is just the cropped image. It looks great.
Thank you, kind lady! It’s funny when you start to notice just how often we can be outside of our comfort zone on a daily basis. It’s amazing any of us function!
Wow good on you for doing an art class!! That is definitely an out of comfort zone activity for me too. I love that you committed to it and did it and wrote about it. I started my blog 4 months ago and feel out of my comfort zone pretty much all the time!! But it’s a good feeling. The lamington is the best I’ve ever seen. And your spoon is lovely 🙂
What a true point- I’m sure many of us with new blogs are out of our comfort zone every time we log in! It’s a steep learning curve- but so much fun.
Don’t you feel great when you follow through pushing through the comfort zone! Takes a bit of doing though doesn’t it? I had to speak at a funeral recently. Definitely out of my comfort zone. My Mum was amongst the mourners so I just spoke as if I was talking to her. I got through it and so pleased I did it. Not without a thousand butterflies but I did it. That Lamington is amazing!
… and I’d be pleased with your artwork if I were you 🙂
Oh thank you for your kind words. Really humbled by all the beautiful comments.
What a beautiful approach to a tricky situation- just act like you’re talking to your mum- the most comfortable experience of them all. xx
Oh how totally cool you did this. Good on you chick, that must have been hard to start but sooo much fun. I love the way kids just go with it and embrace the moment. We can learn so much from them cant we. I put myself totally out of my comfort zone and went to Pro Blogger last week. Not in a million years would I have believed I would actually go.. but I did and I am glad I did xx
Go you! And I lived the whole PB experience vicariously through you and your Insty!! So many thanks for that. I kept thinking, “Going to try and get there next year.” But then I kept talking myself out of it, because, ummm… comfort zone!
OMG I just clicked over to the artists website as I thought I recognised the beautiful work and I so – Fiona is currently illustrating my sons book. She is divine!!! xx
umm, helloo…. your son has a book?? Child Prodigy!!!
And Fiona was just the loveliest soul. Is the loveliest soul- I mean- I ‘m sure she remains that way once I leave her company!