Outside My Comfort Zone

Forced Out of My Comfort Zone: Incidental Findings

Incidental Findings

Incidental Findings

– My Comfort Zone Crumbles –

Nothing like a health scare to yank you out of your comfort zone.  A series of tangled, messy health issues, and a couple of major surgeries, hijacked my life force and creative energy.   Although, I’ve been teaching art and healing for over 20 years and making art for over 40, my “comfort zone” came to a screeching halt as I was consumed with all things medical.

Thankfully a year and a half later, I’m on the other side of the fear and physical aggravation, regaining my strength and finding my way into a new normal.  What I did not expect was how difficult the emotional and spiritual dimensions of recovery would be.  Stepping back into my creative process, I feel like a stranger in a strange land.  The aftermath is hard to sort out but it is nudging me towards a greater understanding of the uncertainties of life, my inevitable mortality and what matters most.

– Creativity Leads the Way –

Outside My Comfort Zone

Our workshop setting

As I begin to heal and reclaim my physical self, my right brain strangely did not feel at home in my studio.  In many ways, I am not who I was.  What I needed was a kick-ass jump start so I stepped outside of my creative comfort zone and signed up for a three day workshop taught by the abstract painter, Brucie Holler.  This evolving series of work, Incidental Findings, is what came out of that experience.

The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover will be yourself…  Alan Alda

– Beginning Anew –

We began with thick chunky sticks of black charcoal – outside my comfort zone.   We drew blind contours of a huge still life set up in the middle of the room – certainly outside my comfort zone.

Following lines of interest and motivating shapes

Following lines of interest and motivating shapes

Using thick chunky sticks of black charcoal, I drew several awkward, clumsy blind contour drawings of a tabletop still-life.  If you are not familiar with the term blind contour drawing, it simply means that you draw the outer edge of the shape or object you are observing. You never look at your paper.  Your eyes and your hands become one.  Awkwardly, I fell into the process, slowly becoming absorbed in the process.  Time disappeared.  It felt really good.

Folding these sketches in half and then half again and then tearing them into quadrants was liberating.  I did not like my renderings – my mess of unwieldy lines and clunky shapes were cumbersome, and clumsy. Happily, I tossed them into the trashcan but no, it turns out these were to be the beginning, the starting point of our next drawings.

“Pick several and glue one on each sheet of paper.” she said.  “This will be where you will start from.  This is your beginning.”

It is a humbling experience to pick a single interesting line or a motivating shape and allow it to open the way.  Large, smooth surfaced papers taped up on the wall anxiously waited to receive my mark-making, my brush strokes, my doodles, my creative play…

Trusting the movement of the charcoal in my hand with nothing to guide it but how it felt in the moment, how it looked in relationship to what was placed before it.  With no outside visual reference but my response to what was already on the page – not within my comfort zone.  The process – excitingly mesmerizing.

I wrestled and struggled through but once I added color to these drawings they transformed into rich iconic abstractions and on the third day, this process already felt like a new home.

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These three days reinforced the importance of trusting there is great value in getting uncomfortably lost.  I learned when I allow myself to move beyond what I already know, I am free to make incidental findings and unintentionally discover where I just might need to go next.  My expanding comfort zone understands the importance of being open to newness, to risk, and to the things that occur merely by chance or without intention.