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On Getting Out of Your Creative Comfort Zone, Lessons I’ve Learned

On Getting Out of Your Creative Comfort Zone, Lessons I've Learned, the artyologist, winter lane and memories

In February I did something that I had been thinking of doing for a long time, but never had the courage to actually go and do: I exhibited my artwork at a local art show.

I have been creating artwork for as long as I can remember, and yet I have never considered myself to be an “artist”. What a heavy word that is! An artist is purposeful. An artist is talented. An artist is trained, not self taught. An artist has a defined style. An artist sells their work. An artist is focused only on creating art- they don’t have other jobs and hobbies, right? Wrong! These are ideas that I had always held about artists, and thus I never placed myself in the category of being an actual artist, because I don’t line up with what a so-called “artist” should be. But, an artist is simply someone who practices a creative art; whether or not they are paid for it, or whether they trained at an Academy, or whether anybody even likes their work. (Think of all the famous artists, who are now revered, but during their time weren’t valued, appreciated or even paid for their work!)

I have always struggled with a rather low opinion of my talents. Can you relate to feelings like that about your own pursuits? This past year I decided that it was time to start taking my artwork seriously and the first step I decided to take, was in exhibiting at one of the local art shows held in February. It was a very big step for me to start selling my work at a few of the Christmas craft shows last November and December, but another altogether to exhibit at an Art Show. I felt so intimidated to show my work at the local Art Show, and yet it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in regards to my artwork. Not only was it an inspiring experience to see the artwork of 60-70 other local artists, and mine among them, but it was just the kick-in-the-pants I needed! 😉 Here are the lessons I learned about getting out of my creative comfort zone, and I hope you can learn from them too- whether you are an artist, or whether you can apply them elsewhere in your life.

On Getting Out of Your Creative Comfort Zone, Lessons I've Learned, the artyologist, discovery watercolour and ink

Showing my work at an Art Show forced me to get out of my comfort zone, and start taking myself seriously.

I had to actually call myself “an artist”. In the same way, whatever you are pursuing- own it! Call yourself “a blogger” or “a fashion designer” or “a photographer” or whatever it is you want. It is funny how simply acknowledging that this is a serious part of your life can make a huge difference in how you view it, and approach it.

Having a deadline meant that I was spending time creating, not just for personal enjoyment, but because I had something to work towards.

I couldn’t not create because I had to have pieces ready to show. I finally got the courage to get five of my photographs printed up on 16″ x 24″ canvases. (I had never, before this, printed my pictures any larger than 5″ x 7″- which is just crazy!) I was spending time every day sketching and painting and pottering about with my camera, but with a purpose in mind. Not that you can’t create without a deadline, but for me personally, having a deadline was a great incentive! Sometimes, finding an outlet for whatever goals you are pursuing is a great way to make sure you are spending time on them. Look for local places to exhibit your artwork. Plan a trip in order to practice that new language you are learning. Look and plan ahead for ways to put your skills into practice.

On Getting Out of Your Creative Comfort Zone, Lessons I've Learned, the artyologist, tithe barn and lilacs after the rain

As intimidated as I was about exhibiting, there was absolutely no reason to be so. 

There were so many artists of all different varieties there. There were self taught artists, as well as professionally trained artists. There were hobby artists and career artists. There were artists who had one very distinctive style, and artists who created and experimented with multiple mediums and styles. There were artists who had been creating for years, and artists who were showing for the first time. There were artists who were young (students) and artists who were old (retired). There was artwork I didn’t much care for, and artwork that stopped me in my tracks because it was so overwhelmingly beautiful.

In short, all of the drawbacks I had about my artwork were absolute rubbish. I am my own worst critic, and the fear of failure often stops me from even trying things. I am mostly self taught, except for lessons throughout high school, and I have always considered this to be a drawback and a hindrance to considering myself a serious artist. Seeing the work of so many other artists of all different levels (many of whom were self-taught too!) and different stages of life was so encouraging. I realized that I have absolutely every right to consider myself an artist (without being vain about it, of course!). I realized that I was one of them. You are too! Whatever it is that you are pursuing, you are a valuable part of the community. Don’t feel intimidated by what others are doing, and get stuck on what you consider to be your drawbacks. Maybe, like me, you will be pleasantly surprised to find out that the things you are worried about are not things that should be holding you back at all, but might actually be things you have in common with the others you are comparing yourself too. And on that note- stop comparing yourself!  (Easier said than done, I know; I am the Queen of Comparison!)

I came away from the show inspired to create. 

It was incredibly inspiring to see the work of so many other local artists and art students. There were all kinds of styles and mediums.  There were pieces made with mediums and techniques that I had never thought about before. There was one collage made with magazine clippings combined with watercolour and ink. I had never thought of combining my love of ephemera and collage with watercolour and ink. It was such a simple, yet ingenious idea and I don’t know why I had never thought of it before. I am now eager to try that medium myself! Going to the show was so refreshing, creatively speaking. Seeing what other people are doing can be very inspiring. Don’t get stuck in a rut of looking at only the same thing all the time, or becoming so focused on what you are personally doing, that you stop looking outwards. Look at Renaissance artwork, if you are normally drawn to Impressionism. Follow a modern style blogger, if you love to wear period vintage. Look at things that are normally outside of your style, and be inspired by them, as even things we don’t like can be tremendously helpful in honing our own skills and styles. Don’t feel the need to limit yourself to only one hobby, or one style either. Experiment and explore.

On Getting Out of Your Creative Comfort Zone, Lessons I've Learned, the artyologist, hens and chicks watercolour and ink

I am now a part of the Arts community and am actively seeking other opportunities to be involved in it.

If I had never taken that first step towards exhibiting at this show (which isn’t even in my own town, but rather in a neighbouring one) I would never have found out about other opportunities. Because I went to this show, which was more widely publicized, I have found out about a couple other shows coming up, and have applied to another one in April. Because I went to this show, I also found out about an opportunity at a local library, where I signed up to display my work for March and April, free of cost. If I had stayed at home and never taken that first step of applying for that show, no more opportunities would have come my way, because I wouldn’t have even known about them. Don’t hold yourself back from taking the first step, because you might be surprised at what other things may be out there waiting for you to discover them.

I am now eager to continue learning and improving my skills. 

I touched on this in my post about creative goals. I am happy with what I have learned so far, and I do see how far I have come, but there is still so much to learn! Taking that first step to showing my work, helped me immensely and gave me such a confidence boost. Getting a positive response and selling some of my prints was a real happy dance moment for me. But, I also realized just how much I don’t know. There were some seriously talented artists at the show. I could have compared myself to them and come up severely lacking, but rather than feeling like a worm, I have instead become all the more eager to learn and improve myself. We all learn from the Masters. There is always someone who is better at something than you are- but rather than feel bad about the fact that you don’t know something, instead be inspired to learn and grow! And on that same note, negative feedback isn’t the end of the world either. Just because one person doesn’t like your work doesn’t mean it’s a failure either- art is extremely personal and it will appeal to different people.

So, those are the lessons I have been learning lately. This was going to be a quick little “recap” post and now it’s turned into a long and drawn out Dear Abby life advice column. 😉 Well, I hope that the lessons I learned through this experience can help you in whatever creative or non-creative pursuits you are working towards right now!

Have you ever struggled with feelings of comparison and inferiority in your pursuits and interests? Have you ever found yourself stuck in a “creative comfort zone”? What are your current goals? If you want to share; I would love to hear about what you are working on!

On Getting Out of Your Creative Comfort Zone, Lessons I've Learned, the artyologist, winter lane and memories

ps. All of these are pieces I created for the show, both photography on canvas and watercolour and ink.

Favourite Internet Finds, Vol. II

Favourite Internet Finds, Vol. II, the artyologist, typewriter

It has been a while since I shared a “link round up”, so I thought it was about time for another. I love the posts that other bloggers put together, sharing things that they’ve found interesting and have been inspired by. Isn’t that the whole point of the internet anyways- sharing information? So, here are some posts and other internet finds lately, that I thought you might find interesting too.

  • Fashion Revolution just put out a fanzine called Money Fashion Power. You can read it here for free. There is seriously so much good information in here. I read through it once- but I know that I am going to be referring back to it over and over again.
  • Fashion Revolution Week is also coming up soon- April 24-30, 2017. Fashion Revolution has set up an entire page with ideas for how bloggers and vloggers can join in to help create awareness and promote change in the fashion industry this April. I’ve already started thinking about how I am going to take part this year. Are you planning on taking part in Fashion Revolution Week?
  • Have you ever thought about fashion “fakes” as being that big of a deal? I had no idea of what a sordid and terrible industry the counterfeit fashion one is. This story from the Associated Press reveals how fake fashion adds an entirely new and appalling level to the cheap fashion industry.
  • This Make Do and Mend blazer that Leea refashioned from a men’s jacket is absolutely beautiful. She has included the diagram/image of how to lay out the pattern from the 1940’s. I really want to try this out sometime! Maybe when I am feeling the need of a new and challenging project 😉
  • This is a fun story about an accidental fashion icon, Lyn Slater. She is a 63 year old lady with a killer sense of style, who was mistaken for being a famous fashion icon and ended up starting her own blog!
  • The LACMA (Los Angeles County Museaum of Art) has released some patterns from some of their collection, and they are available as free downloads. There are pieces from the 1700’s up to the mid 1900’s. There are both men’s and women’s patterns- including a ladies harem pants pajamas pattern from the early 1900’s and a redingote from 1790. Who knows if I’ll ever make them, but that’s no reason not to save the patterns anyways!
  • I’m always excited to see what Jessica of Zella Maybe has come up with, and this recent outfit she shared is making me want all the embroidery! She has such a great sense of style, and her shoots are always so atmospheric.
  • Bianca of The Closet Historian recently did up a tutorial on embellishing a knit top. Hop over to her post to see how she turned a basic black top into a beautiful showstopping 50’s inspired sweater, inspired by one of the costumes from the movie “Brooklyn”.
  • As part of my Creative Goals for this year, I did this free 5-day Still Life and Food Photography Course, by Christina Greve. She has tons of free tutorials and courses on her blog, and though I haven’t had a chance yet to check them all out- the tips that I’ve gotten so far have been helpful.
  • Emileigh’s post this past Wednesday, for International Women’s Day was very beautiful. I love how she focused on the different roles and positions that women are in, and spent time thanking them for that.

And that is some of what I have been reading and been inspired by on the internet these past few weeks. Happy Friday everyone!

Setting Creative Goals for March and Onwards

Setting Creative Goals for March and Onwards

Where did the month of February go? I know that it is a shorter month than the rest, but I was still so surprised at just how fast it went by! And here we are, already on the 3rd day of March. There is something about turning the calendar page to March, that turns my mind towards Spring. I know that technically we are still in Winter, and the current view out my window is one full of snow, with nary a tree bud to be seen, but I can’t help but start hoping for Spring. And with thoughts of Spring, and a fresh new month before us, also comes thoughts of “goals”; and specifically my creative goals.

I set myself a rather hefty list of goals to accomplish this year. I might have gone a bit overboard with the number I set, but last year I didn’t set any overarching goals, and at the end of the year I realized that I didn’t accomplish much. So, this year I set a lot. Seriously- the ones listed below are only my “creative goals”. Many of these creative goals are things that I enjoy or have been “meaning to get around to”, but haven’t dedicated the time and effort into. The act of writing them down is really forcing me to work on them- and, sharing them here is going to help me be a whole lot more accountable too 🙂 Since we’re now in the third month of the year, here is what I have done so far, and what needs to yet be done, both this month and the rest of year as well.

Improve my Photography Skills

There is so much about photography that I don’t know. I have decided that this is the year that I finally invest some time (and money if needed) into improving my skill set. You can’t grow if you don’t learn, right? I have been putting it off, but I have finally carved out the time to do some online lessons and DVD courses in order to get better at photography. I absolutely love taking photos- it is one of my favourite creative mediums, so instead of being intimidated by all the things I don’t know- I am instead going to start absorbing some of that knowledge bit by bit. My goal is to finish one course this month, and making this a priority each week is a good start!

Improve my Photoshop Skills

I have a very rudimentary knowledge of Photoshop and Illustrator. I use these two programs for my job all the time- but I was not trained very well in the programs, and I know just enough to limp my way through. My boss has agreed to let me dedicate a couple of hours each week to tutorials and training, and I have learned so much in just the few lessons I’ve taken. I found the Youtube channel Phlearn, and if you are wanting to learn Photoshop- this is the place to go. Not only am I learning things that will help me with my job, but also with my own personal photos and this blog too. Talk about killing two birds with one stone. (Well – not literally.)

Create a More Cohesive Instagram

Although my family and friends, who are not part of social media, laugh at this goal of mine- I know that my fellow Instagrammers will understand. 🙂 I get frustrated when I look at my feed and it’s all over the place. I am now, as of this week, focusing more on creating cohesive images for my Instagram account. The first step I have taken to implementing this plan is downloading VSCO; and already I am liking how my pictures are turning out. It is so nice to be able to edit outside of Instagram, and have complete control over the look of the picture before it is published.

Create More Artwork, and Practice, Practice, Practice!

I had really gotten out of the habit of putting my artwork as a priority. Don’t we always neglect the enjoyable things we love, that are not as “important” as the other things on our to-do lists? I have now set a goal for myself to create one painting each week. I am also going to sketch each day, and take one artistic photograph each day. I will probably fail at this goal, but at least by setting it, I will create more than I have been, and I will be intentional about it!

painting, setting creative goals for march and onwards

Exhibit at Art and Craft Shows

Going to those two Christmas sales has really given me the “sale” bug. I took part in one art show last weekend, and it was great! I didn’t sell as much as I was hoping for, but I did sell four photo prints, which was very nice. Also, because of the sale, I found out about a local library that has an area for artists to hang their work. I now have my pieces hanging up for the month of March and April- so who knows where that might lead? And, I have just found out about another art show in April and I am now planning for that one too. And of course, planning again for the next Christmas shows. It was a huge step for me to do that first show, and now I am so excited for all of these new ones coming up!

Create an Online Shop

You may have noticed that I have a “shop” tab in my blog header, but if you click on it, it only takes you to a page that says “coming soon”. 🙁 I was hoping to have set up a shop online by now, but I have run into some complications with that, and it hasn’t happened yet. My hope is to be able to start selling online this year, but it might be a while before that happens. This is one of those creative goals that I have not made much progress on so far, but I’ll keep chipping away at it. . .

Sew More

Considering that I love to wear clothes, you would think that I would be chomping at the bit to get more things sewn and into my wardrobe. However- I am a slow seamstress and I always seem to run into problems with my sewing which then takes up more time. . . Long story short- it takes a lot of time. But, I do have a lot of projects in the works, and I would like to finish them up. I think a goal of sewing a few hours a week is not too bad of a target. Maybe even one garment a month? Do you think I can do it? I guess we’ll find out. . .

Unplug More Often

I currently unplug on Sundays; as it is my Sabbath and day of rest. It is so nice to have one day a week where I don’t turn on my computer or browse through Instagram, and I think that doing this more often wouldn’t hurt either. I actually don’t need to post a new photo every day on Instagram. If I miss a blog post here and there, the world won’t fall apart. (I hope- haha!) I don’t need to see what every person I follow is doing every minute of the day. There actually is such a thing as too much inspiration. I want to do these things only because I want to, not because I feel the pressure to keep up. Last weekend I took a break over the weekend, since I was busy at the art show. I realized that I needed to be living in the moment; not wondering how many comments I needed to respond to! I am going to make a conscious effort to unplug this year, when necessary.

Well, those are my creative goals. Congratulations on making it to this point, because whew! I thought this was going to be a short post and it is a looooooong one.

So, do you set yearly goals for yourself? If so, what are your creative goals, or non creative goals for this year? How are you doing with them so far? And, are you excited about the coming Spring season?!

pincushion, setting creative goals for march and onwards, the artyologist

My Favourite Posts From the Last Year

I thought that since I was not organized enough to get together a round-up or year in review post for New Years, and also considering that I would have been one month short had I published such a post before now, I would share my favourite posts since I started blogging a year ago. When I looked at my blog stats, I was surprised to see some of the posts that came up as the most popular, although the #1 post is also one of my favourites too. So, without further ado, here are my top 12 posts from the past year, in case you missed them the first time around!

Oh, and ps: So sorry to everyone who was trying to leave comments in the past few days and having difficulties with the all caps situation going on there. Somehow, when I changed my blog format, I switched the comment form to all caps! It is fixed now, so you should have no more difficulties 🙂

Harem Pants: A Most Interesting and Scandalous History The Artyologist

Harem Pants: A Most Interesting and Scandalous History

This was one of the most fun posts to write, and it took me forever to gather all the facts and write it. There is so much more I could have said, but then I would have had to write a book, I suppose. 😉 This is the most popular post I’ve ever published; I’m still getting page views on it six months later.

vintage astra fur coat real fur collar closeup

Vintage Astra Fur

For some reason that is quite beyond me, this little post I wrote about my vintage Astra faux fur coat and advertisement has proven to be very popular as well, and I still get plenty of views on it too.

the artyologist image of vintage turbans zebra striped

The Lifesaving Powers of Vintage Turbans

This was another favourite post to write, although I look at the pictures now, and think that I could have done better. Oh, well. I am really looking forward to writing some more fashion history posts this year.

The Big Reveal: The Refashioners 2016 and Gertie's Butterick, full outfit, the artyologist

The Reveal: Refashioners 2016 & Gertie’s Butterick 5882

This was a project where my blog proved to be an accountability partner. As I had told the entire internet I was going to take part in this challenge, I had to do it! Unfortunately the weather turned cold right after this was sewn, so I haven’t had a chance to wear it out yet, except for these photos. It is waiting patiently for next summer, but this post has proven to be a rather popular one in the meantime.

Refashioning a 1980's dress into a 1940's pinafore the artyologist

Refashioning a 1980’s Dress into a 1940’s Pinafore / Dorothy and The Yellow Surrounded Road

I cheated here and have two posts for one! But, as they are both related you can go look at the pictures in one post and then see how it was constructed in the other.

feature image the artyologist

Are You a Flapper?

This was a different kind of post, as it was a costume rather than an actual outfit. It was fun to go all out and wear a completely 1920’s flapper outfit, which I probably wouldn’t wear out for real.

The Dress That Didn't Get Away- the artyologist

The Dress That Didn’t Get Away

I just like the fall colours in these photos and they were fun to take along a small back road.

Fashion Isn't About You, the artyologist

Fashion Isn’t About You

One of the more serious posts I’ve written, for Slow Fashion October, this outlines some of the reasons why I choose to shop and wear ethical fashion and why the effects of the cheap fashion industry should matter to us all.

Ready for Paul Poiret's 1,002 Night Ball The Artyologist

Ready for Poiret’s “One Thousand and Second Night”

Hands down, this was my personal favourite outfit post of the year. Not only do I like the 1910’s inspired outfit (which is a bit different of a style for me, and one that I am incorporating more and more into my wardrobe), but the photos were taken on the brink of a summer thunderstorm! We got the photos just in time to avoid a soaking downpour.

Vogue Does Autumn Fashion, the artyologist

Vogue Does Fall Fashion

Here was another fun fashion post, inspired by Vogue. I tried to be a moody model, and it certainly looks that way. . . except for all the outtakes that I didn’t post 😉

image of holding lilacs and portrait the artyologist

Sundresses in the Rain

One of the first times I ever did a proper shoot of photos, not just quick snapshots, these were taken on one of the most beautiful days of Spring, right in between rain showers. The lilacs were absolutely stunning that day.

vintage vogue covers 1939 inspired portrait

Vintage Vogue Covers

One of my earliest posts, this hasn’t been a very popular one, but it was a lot of fun to do, and I like the mood of the photographs. (Also, look at my short hair!)