photo-7 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.

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.

photo(20) copy 4This 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.

photo(20) copy 2Fiona 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?!

photo(20) copyCheck out that palette now!

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.

photo(20) copy 3So, 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.
photo(20)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?”