Stretching Beyond the Artistic Comfort Zone

 In Reflections

Hillsboro Plein Air 2013

Hillsboro Oregon does an annual Plein Air painting event. Last year, I was sort of interested, thinking it would be a nice way to meet some of the other artists in the area. I didn’t know how it worked, and I had a lot of questions. Mind you, I didn’t call and ask, just used them as an excuse not to attend the event even after the other plans I had that weekend fell through. This year it is Sept 20 – 21, 2013. Today and tomorrow if you are reading this when it first comes out.

Hillsboro Arts and Culture Council

stream in Rood Bridge Park

Rood Bridge Park

This year, I am on the board of the arts council that creates the event. I mentioned I had chickened out the year before because of all my questions. Now there is an extensive FAQ. I have duties both days, so I have to be there.

Part of the event will be held in the downtown area where there are all sorts of interesting historic buildings and homes. The farmers market will also be going on Saturday morning. The rest of the event is at the Rood Bridge Park, which has a whole range of beautiful areas to paint. There will be two tableau set-ups with models in period costume. In the evening, we can participate in a night paint downtown.

I’m planning on painting.

Why do I feel so nervous?

Part of me is really looking forward to the event. Part of me is scared. I’ve never done Plein Air painting before. Plein Air means in the open. I think that is part of what is nerve wracking. Normally I work away in my studio and don’t have to worry about anyone seeing what I’m doing unless I show them.

I don’t paint figures, unless they are abstract alien looking shapes, and certainly not wearing period costumes. I’ve never even thought about painting outside at night. There is also a threat of rain, with a likelihood of spending at least one of the days in showers. I’m not a walking in the rain girl, although I am trying to convince myself I am.

Why am I doing it anyway?

This is how I grow artistically. I push myself to continually try new things. Whether it be new subject matter, new technique, new media, or new approach, I seek ways to challenge myself to do things I’m not good at. I don’t make the same kind of leaps when I stay safe and execute the same things over and over.

This is definitely a feel the fear and do it anyway concept.

Reducing the risk

Getting answers to all those questions I had about how the event works was the first step. I looked up videos on Youtube of people demonstrating packing up and painting outside. I paid attention to how they were approaching it. I’m letting people know I may be a painter, but I’m a beginner at all of this.

I’m not going to try to do all the new subject matter in the new media. I’m going to use watercolor, and maybe hard pastel and colored pencil. I don’t want to fight everything all at once, I want to be able to focus on sections of the challenge.

The most helpful thing is I invited friends. Having other people who are in my artist support circles come and play with me will make the whole thing successful no matter how the work turns out.

I don’t have to enter anything in the competitive part of the event. As a board member I’m not eligible for prizes anyway. Allowing myself to chose to share the work will be helpful.

Send good weather thoughts

Maybe I’ll surprise myself. I can’t imagine what would make me willing to paint in the middle of the farmers market like so many do at these events, but maybe I’ll find something else I really do enjoy. Hoping it won’t rain, but I’ll bring the waterproof clothes and umbrella I have for these types of things.

What do you do when you are scared to try something?

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