Going outside my comfort zone

Besides my difficulties shading, I also don’t have a very visual memory and even my imagination rarely comes up with a clear, sharp image. Because of this, I usually create art directly from life or a photo. But I firmly believe that trying things I wouldn’t normally do helps me grow more than anything else, so a couple of months ago I made my first attempt at working without any direct reference. First, I chose a photo from a recent trip that I really liked:


A sunset at Isla Mujeres, Mexico with people silhouetted and birds circling above

I allowed myself to study it a little. This was my first try, after all. But I was doing this at a friend’s house, so I didn’t look at it for maybe an hour and a half before I started painting it. This is what I made:

A from memory watercolor based off that photo


It’s clearly rough (though it looks better in person where the shadows blend in better). I could pick it apart, but I won’t. It has a certain charm, and for me it’s a good first step towards working from memory or imagination. Now that I’m painting again I’d like to try things like this more often.

When was the last time you went outside your comfort zone to improve your art or another aspect of your life?

(Blog management note: I set up a twitter the other day. Over the next week I’ll be working on setting up more social media and getting everything connected, but for now you can find me here: https://twitter.com/alexschulerarts)

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6 Replies to “Going outside my comfort zone”

  1. Kudos to you for making the effort to go outside your comfort zone. I’ll confess I don’t often do that… I have been working on getting better at navigating the subway on my own, though (I used to be too nervous to go by myself). I look forward to more art from your imagination in the future!

    Welcome to Twitter, btw! 🙂

    • Hahahaha. I live in a place where the bus is mostly a straight line up and down the highway and I used to be REALLY nervous about riding it. I get lost super easily though. I don’t worry about it too much anymore. I have to trust myself to figure things out when something goes wrong. I always have in the past. 🙂

  2. I don’t usually go outside my comfort zone when it comes to writing. But I did recently decide to do some reading outside of what I’d normally select to hopefully show me a variety of new “writing” things I could learn from.

    I haven’t started yet, but I do have a list of books I hope to read this year in addition to my fun reading.

    Outside of writing I’m more likely to take on a challenge because all the things that are coming to mind are skills where I’m at the bottom and if I don’t take risks I’m never going to go up.

    For example, I love sewing and I recently started making my daughter a swimsuit and I’m REALLY nervous about it, but it’s something I want to learn.

    I guess a lot of it boils down to pleasure. I’ll be antsy while making this swimsuit but I’ll have fun doing it and in the end I’ll be happy (optimistic) with my results.

    With something like reading things that I wouldn’t normally, I might very well run into something I have to force myself to get through for the sake of learning and then when I’m done mostly feel relief that it’s over LOL. Now I’m hoping that’s not the case which each book on my list, but I’m sure it’ll be the case at least once.

    • I know what you mean about pleasure. I have a very low tolerance for powering through something I’m not enjoying. If it takes 10 minutes or less I’ll probably get through it. Half an hour, maybe. Much more and I tend to toss it aside and go do something I actually enjoy. LOL

      It’s so cool that you’re sewing a swimsuit for your daughter. I wish I were more crafty with things like sewing and knitting. I already have too many other hobbies right now though. Maybe someday. 🙂

    • Thanks! I love the colors too, but the thing about these pictures is that I got a colorblind extension for my browser and I think they look even better with a couple of those filters. So cool!