Stretching the comfort zone of your creativity

by | Dec 5, 2018 | Amanda, Creativity For Life

Hello Creative QB’s,

How stepping from comfy sand shoes to nine-inch high heels helped me stretch out of my comfort zone and enter a regional art prize.

If like me, creativity is starting to feel like an old comfy pair of favourite sandshoes it maybe time to stretch yourself and slip into something a little more uncomfortable.

3 minute read

 

Experiencing discomfort in our creativity, our ideas, abilities, skills and talents and learning to push our creative boundaries are opportunities for creative growth. It’s a way to build creative confidence step by stretch.

A creative stretch is stepping outside of your comfort zone, doing something in your creative practice or life that pushes you beyond where you comfortably wish to go. A creative stretch prepares the ground for a new normal, like learning to walk, not in comfy shoes, but in nine-inch high heels and owning it.

Just last month my old sandshoes where feeling a little too comfy so I decided to enter one of my artworks into a regional art prize. I did this to stretch out the limits of what I think is possible.

 

Sandshoes Illustration Copyright Amanda O'Bryan

My old comfy sandshoes

 

Why did I stretch outside my comfort zone?

I knew it was time to push outside my comfort zone because:

  • I’d been working on an artwork for a few months and I knew I needed to finish it, the deadline of an art prize entry form gave me incentive.
  • I felt like I had ‘leaned in’ or ‘limbered up’ for a stretch. I’d been working steadily in my art practice, I was not at ground zero and I knew I was ready.
  • I was willing to stretch. This was a really important part of my purpose for doing it.

There is a paradox in a creative stretch. When I stepped out of my comfort zone (by entering the art prize) I was initially excited and inspired and I needed that fuel to kick-start my courage. Then, once I’d committed, a plan naturally emerged with all the steps and tasks I needed to do to make it happen. Once that plan was in process then came the tummy churns, a combination of excitement and audacity, coupled with moments of self-doubt and the reappearance of the imposter syndrome.

On the flip side I began to fantasise about the possibility of winning or receiving accolades, while trying to push down the nagging feeling of potential rejection and disappointment.

It’s completely normal to experience all these emotions, because that’s where the lessons live. How we deal with living wildly outside the boundaries of our comfort zone is akin to inviting monsters into our backyard and that can be terrifying. But venture we must into the monster pit because those lessons build creative resilience, flex our risk muscle and give us an opportunity to hone our creative skills and talents for improvement.

Roger-Vivier-inspired-watercolour-shoes

Roger Vivier inspired heels

 

In deciding to take a creative stretch, things that worked for me where:

  • Being ready and willing – I was very mindful of being ready and willing. If you are not both ready and willing, a stretch can deal a debilitating blow to your confidence and thwart the next stretchy wave coming around. Be honest with yourself about being ready and willing. (although the opposite is also true, you may not be ready but your will is stronger, I call that a leap of faith and it’s another blog post entirely here)
  • Making a choice – I acknowledge I am making a conscious decision to stretch, to be open and to share my gifts and talents.
  • I’m walking the talk- in living a creative life I must show up everyday ready for the muse – whatever shape or form the discomfort or joy that brings me.
  • Just because – knowing I can do this simply because I can.
  • Managing my expectations – especially around the paradox of a creative stretch. This means asking myself some questions like; am I going to be ok if my artwork is rejected and I don’t make it through as a finalist in the art prize? Am I going to be ok with the critique from peers and judges? How might I react if I am successful? What does a successful stretch look like for me?
  • Set and forget – I take the action and then I forget about it. Life goes on, don’t stress it, wish it to happen or become obsessive about an outcome. Be reflective about your feelings and emotions and really tap into the lessons it teaches you, that is the real masterwork of a creative stretch.

The Lesson

This stretchy lesson taught me more about ‘the offering of our gifts and talents’. It reinforced my perspective on the giving of our creative gifts in that; creativity is not ours to own, it is ours to give, firstly to ourselves and then to others and that is why it is called a ‘gift’.

Giving the gift of creativity to yourself first is an act of self love. Holding on, hoarding or keeping that gift from ourselves is not the spirit of creativity nor is it abundantly and generously living a happy, healthy, creative life.

If you recognise you are hiding your creative gifts away, ask yourself “what am I offering”? Just asking this little question may have you stepping into killer nine-inch heels and forgetting your ever owned those comfy old sandshoes.

The good news is I was a finalist in the Newcastle Emerging Artist Prize 2018 (NEAP) and part of the finalist exhibition. I also won the ‘Packers Prize’ to boot. That’s a stretchy win-win for me. Oh, just one more thing, I wore my most uncomfortable, highest of heeled shoes to exhibition opening night, just to remind myself that uncomfortable has it’s rewards.

 

About the artwork:
‘Flow From the Tops’ Acrylic on Canvas, unframed 1m x 1m
$1000 inc gst + shipping. (Yes it’s for sale – For enquires contact me HERE

Flow-From-The-Tops-Copyright-Amanda-O'Bryan

Description:
For forty years, four families and three generations have gathered during Easter in a valley between Barrington and Copeland Tops in the Hunter Valley to share campfire stories and yearly catch ups. Etched into my psyche are fleshy valleys, banked by rivers held strong with Casuarina trees, sun tipped rainforests and changing skies that may burst open with heavy storms sending flows of water down the mountains, this is where I feel ‘belonged’. This work is about connection to family, just as the rains flow from the ‘Tops’, so too does the flow of family, connecting the generations to heritage, flowing into a place of belonging.

 

 

TOP THREE TAKEAWAY’s

• A creative stretch is stepping outside of your comfort zone, doing something in your creative practice or life that pushes you beyond where you comfortably wish to go.
 

• A creative stretch builds creative resilience, flex’s our risk muscle and gives us an opportunity to hone our creative skills and talents for improvement.

• Remind yourself that being uncomfortable has it’s rewards.

There is a paradox in a creative stretch. When I stepped out of my comfort zone (by entering the art prize) I was initially excited and inspired and I needed that fuel to kick-start my courage.
 

3 Comments

  1. I feel you are my type of people. I’m a late bloomer as I am seventy and feel after being out of action for a long time I’m ready to bloom. I have a great desire to,be with creative people and to tap Into my creativity. In fact sometimes I feel I am bursting!

    I have done a lot of Inner work, dabbled in acrylics a little and love decorating. I,hope we can connect

    Reply
  2. I feel you are my type of people. I’m a late bloomer as I am seventy and feel after being out of action for a long time I’m ready to bloom. I have a great desire to,be with creative people and to tap Into my creativity. In fact sometimes I feel I am bursting!

    I am feeling next year I will be able to physically function so much better.

    I have done a lot of Inner work, dabbled in acrylics a little and love decorating. I,hope we can connect next year.

    Reply
    • Dear Judy,

      I hope we can connect next year and hear more about your ‘late blooming’. I am thrilled you and creativity found each other. I feel like creativity is always calling us, it never gives up until we really hear it. At seventy years young, I would agree you found your calling. A happy, healthy, creative christmas to you. Kind regards, Amanda

      Reply

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