'Blu-Ray' Oil on canvas - 2015 30x40inchesEver had an art tutor, fellow artist or well-meaning friend say that what your art needs is for you to move out of your comfort zone? Just when you reach a place where you are enjoying your artistic pursuits and its making sense, someone gives you the move on notice. Annoying isn't it? I read an interesting article recently that resonated with me. It was about comfort zones and why we don't need to escape them. I repeat, DO NOT need to escape them. http://www.artistdaily.com/blogs/oil-painting/get-out-of-your-comfort-zone-um-why As an artist, we are often told to get out of our comfort zone...but what about when our comfort zone is actually where we make our best work? It's all well and good to extend yourself and I am all for pushing boundaries, raising the bar and aiming for a better outcome but does this actually mean getting out of your comfort zone? Personally, I don't think so, certainly not if we enjoy being there. The dictionary states a 'comfort zone' as 'a situation where one feels safe or at ease.• a settled method of working that requires little effort and yields only barely acceptable results.' Take note of these last three words...herein lies the part of comfort zones we need to avoid. It's wonderful to feel safe and at ease with our work; to know that the many hours of practice, struggle, and mistake making have eventually lead us to a place where we have joy and achievement, that requires little angst, doubt or pain. This is often when we find ourselves in the much talked about ZONE in art...the zone being the place where we switch off and concentrate at the peak of our artistic capabilities; where we settle into the whole freedom of creating art. It's a magical place and is not always reached without a great degree of effort taking us there. Our comfort zone actually is this zone, in all its perfect enjoyment. It's where we strive to be and have such a grand time in... so why are we always given the advice of needing to move out of our comfort zone if its such a great place to be? Remember the last few words of the dictionary meaning? 'yields only barely acceptable results.' That's why.
'Red, White and Blue' oil on canvas 2014We need to learn how to be in our comfort zone but with improvement in our work. Find your comfort zone...wallow in it, like the proverbial pig in mud, then shake it up a bit. Like painting still-life? Paint still-life, but try to find a new composition or viewpoint. Like realism? Abstract your backgrounds and paint your beloved realism in the foreground. Stretch yourself, push your limits, do whatever it takes to do things ever so slightly differently. Pushing the limits of your comfort zone does not need to be extreme or to destroy your enjoyment. Take it in small increments so you still regularly find yourself in the ZONE. Your comfort zone will be sweeter, more rewarding and non-stagnant if you make small changes every now and then, but remember, whatever you do....ENJOY! Mia x