What your art practice can teach you about breaking out of your comfort zone

What your art practice can teach you about moving out of your comfort zone

As artists, most of us have our favorite color palette – the paint tubes and color pencils we reach for over and over again. Mine are blues, pinks, purples, and hints of orange.

Sometimes, though, it’s good to pick up the colors that you tend to ignore. For this particular painting, I spied a little-used tube of emerald green, which I decided to pair with orange and some hints of turquoise blue.

How the inner critic keeps you stuck in your comfort zone

The moment I laid down some of that green on the page, I could feel my anxiety start to build. I’m pretty sure you can relate to those feelings of uncertainty or anxiousness that arise when working with colors that you’re not comfortable with.

These are just some of the thoughts that were swirling around my mind when I was working on this painting.

Will green and orange look too contrived? Like – horror of horrors – a garland of marigold and Ashoka leaves? Never mind that that’s exactly where my color inspiration came from, I sure didn’t want the page to end up looking like Diwali decor! Where is the artistic sophistication in that?

Oh – hello, Prissy Missy, my old friend.

All of us have an inner critic. She may sound just like you {like Prissy Missy does in my case}, which can make it a little difficult to distinguish between your own thoughts and hers, or like someone you know in real life {quite often an authority figure}, which can make the critic relatively easier to identify.

But that’s not the point. I don’t want to talk about her today. Let’s talk about comfort zones instead.

Identifying your comfort zone in your art practice

As artists, it’s easy for us to identify our comfort zones – it’s in the color palettes you default to, the marks you make, the mediums you prefer, and the style that you are comfortable with.

There’s nothing wrong with this – in art or in any other creative endeavour. It’s the way you hone your craft, after all – by becoming familiar with your tools and styles and genre. It’s also how you create a body of work.

ButAndAlso, the only way to grow and develop and deepen your craft is by challenging yourself to move out of your comfort zone sometimes.

It can be scary, because you’re in unchartered territory. Your inner critic becomes louder, and all your fears tend come to the forefront.

How to move out of your comfort zone when you paint

But when you can remember to breathe through that fear, to adopt a sense of playfulness, exploration, and curiosity, you can break through that comfort barrier relatively easily.

Your experiments may not always be successful, but even the so-called failures can teach you invaluable lessons on color mixing, balance, composition – and even on your own preferences, which is excellent feedback to have!

And if you are successful, then breaking out of your comfort zone can help you to expand your visual language and color stories, and deepen your style.

What your art practice teaches you about moving out of your comfort zone

All of this is also transferable to life, don’t you think?

One of the inevitable consequences of a regular art practice is how many of the skills that you develop and practice on the painty table become maps that can help you navigate through life’s curveballs.

Here’s what that looks like for me; tell me if you relate?

On the painty table I often tell myself things like “Oh, that’s just paper and paint! If it doesn’t work out, I can tear it up and use it as collage. No biggie there.”

In life, when I’m forced out of my comfort zone {kicking and screaming most times, if I’m honest!}, I can remind myself how seemingly small and insignificant this new situation will seem when I look back at it a few years later. Even if I fail, or embarrass myself, no one is likely to remember it for too long anyway {except Prissy Missy, who will find every opportunity to throw my failures in my face, but I have other ways of dealing with her!}.

But sometimes, you just need to take a deep breath, roll up your sleeves, and do those hard things anyway!

What tips or techniques do you use to break out of your comfort zone? Do share with me in the comments!

Healing with art

There is so much joy and healing that I find at the painty table. It’s a joy I wish everyone could experience. Which is why I love to create art + soul ecourses that include curated guided meditations, journaling questions, and an art journal project from start to finish. The videos are broken down into easy to watch segments, which makes it perfect even for the most busy people to watch and create!

Why not try a free mini art+soul ecourse?

Have you ever felt anxious, angsty, or even uncertain about where you’re heading? In this mini art+soul lesson, I share some of my tried and tested go-to resources to deal with anxiety, and show you an excellent way to use your art practice to help you to bring some calm back to your life.

Posted in Mindset for artists, On My Art Table, Soulful living.

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