The last time I went to an art class – the kind that involved painting - was when I was 12 years old and at the time all I felt I was capable of was painting stick figures with smiling suns with big rays of light beaming out from them, up in the corner of the painting. You know the kind you painted as a pre-schooler. Mine had not moved on much. And I was well aware that there were other kids in the class who were the natural “artists” busy creating amazing and sometimes dark pieces of art. But ‘real’ art nonetheless.
So, at the age of 12 years I didn’t see myself as being artistically talented or gifted. I knew how to use words and language – that was more my thing – so I left art class behind with an acceptance in my own mind that I was rubbish at art. Limiting belief alert!
Dream Big Paint Big
I have been running that belief in my head ever since then and this year I met an amazing business woman and artist, Angela Murray from Living Life In Colour - who after becoming a client of mine, invited me to explore my own creativity through her Dream Big Paint Big experiential painting class. I knew other people who had done this experiential class and I was really impressed with their paintings AND this opportunity totally met with The Shape of Kate goal to create a rich and full life, so I said a BIG YES to Angela.
Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone
I explained to Angela that I said yes because I was attracted by the idea of doing something so outside of my comfort zone and thought that in doing something I believed I was so rubbish at that it would be good for me and that I expected to learn or grow somehow through doing so. You know like going parachuting or bungy jumping if you fear heights.
And interestingly I said yes with a caveat – that while I thought others could produce art of beauty and merit that I was doing this as an exercise and didn’t expect my own painting to be much chop at all – but that I would commit to coming along to the class with an open mind (that sounds funny in retrospect) and to practice being the “observer” of myself while in the class. I had no idea how I would be during this experience.
Angela said that I was likely to be surprised by my own experience of the class and encouraged me to trust in the process with a sparkle in her eye. I loved her faith in me, but was still a secret doubter of my ability to produce a painting I would like even in her wonderful class.
Day One – Bungy Jumping for The Non-Artist
The Dream Big Paint Big experience I did was a series of four x 4-hour Sunday afternoon sessions - each with a fortnight in between. I went along to session one dressed in clothes I was willing to get paint on and prepared to step outside of my comfort zone – or so I thought. Angela is a trained Creativity and Life Coach and so frames up the sessions with a well-planned and supportive introduction and creates a very comfortable environment including music in her painting studio.
My Defensive Monster Appeared
Once we got into the studio we started using a range of colour and techniques with paint that Angela showed us. She encouraged us to just play and have fun. I very quickly went from a state of Zen calmness to feeling very uncomfortable, defensive, angry and frustrated. Angela kept coming up to my side with new things to try. A different brush, a scraper, a feather – you name it she kept offering me new tools to paint my canvas with. I was starting to feel uber peeved with her joyful encouragement.
I was conscious that I felt so angry and frustrated and was thinking, oh my god we are only one hour into this 4-hour session and if she keeps coming up to me with more techniques to try I am going to scream. And holy crap there are four entire afternoons of this – I am going to go out of my mind doing this for so many hours. So, I kept trying to breathe and to calm myself down and to be the “observer” as I had intended before coming along. Whilst my wildly negative emotions felt in part directed towards Angela - she handled my crazy resentful energy with great skill and positivity. Thank you Angela!
At the same time I was checking out what the others were doing and thought their efforts were way better than mine (that was an old familiar feeling) – they were obviously so more creative than me - and that all my experimentation was so ugly and rubbish. I was scared to try the new things Angela was showing us how to do in case I kept stuffing it up. But I did keep going with all these negative emotions swirling inside of me. My mind and my stomach felt sick with all that negativity consuming me. And on top of that I felt disappointed at my inability to grow through this experience that Angela was guiding us though. I felt a failure.
A Life Changing Breakthrough
About halfway through the class (after two hours of feeling defensive, angry and resentful) Angela showed me another painting technique I could try and I had a go and LOVED what it did to my painting. It transformed it into something I loved. Wow! What a feeling - totally loving a painting I was creating. It's hard to find the words to describe this. I'll give it my best shot for you. Right at that moment my whole energy transformed from all those negative emotions – they simply dissolved and I felt my most awesome huge positive energy emerge with a force. My Force of Nature (also the name of my business) had returned and some. I was flying with the surge of creative energy and excitement. This is how my painting looked at this point.
I carried on with the class and started to have fun and explore and play more with the colours and techniques. With my newly found hope, excitement and confidence spurring me on the time flew and it seemed that in no time Angela was asking us to clean up our brushes and other painting tools. I couldn't believe how much I loved my painting and how I was feeling. The excitement and energy was flowing out of every pore by this point and I bounced out of the studio to my car to start ringing friends to share this amazing experience with them. This is how my painting looked by the end of that first class.
One friend who I rang reflected to me afterwards that my whole energy had changed - that it felt like it had exploded in the best of ways and she was so excited to hear how full of life I was after this experience. I was definitely on fire!
I continued with the next 3 classes and my painting changed and evolved and then went backwards and then grew again through that time. That I learned was to be expected and completely normal. Sometimes I would create a result I loved and then others times not so much. Learning how to bring my painting back to where I wanted it to go was part of the process.
The Final Countdown
My final class was a hectic whirl of finishing off all the things I wanted to do with my painting before I would be taking it home. That last 4-hours flew and my finished work is what you see at the top of this story and below.
I have written about this whole experience in detail as it was and continues to be such a profound and life changing experience for me. I would love for others to experience the results of this experiential class and particularly those who like me perceive themselves to be crap at art. Angela promised a process that would enable me to explore my creativity and intuition and expand my sense of self and she more than delivered on all of the above and I had this amazing painting to bring home.
What Did I Learn?
I'd like to finish by sharing the profound lessons I took away from this experience.
Dissolving My Limiting Beliefs = Freedom
This experiential process dissolved my limiting beliefs about my ability to paint and be creative. They just went. I'd come into the class knowing and believing I was good with language and bad at art but not really expecting to come away with a painting I would like. Instead I let go of that old and false belief and explored, had fun and created a painting that I love. I felt a powerful sense of freedom. What other limiting beliefs are holding me back I wonder?
An Experiential Process Can Create Fast Results
Angela's process dissolved my limiting beliefs about my ability to paint and be creative with visual media in only 2 hours. That was and is amazing to me.
My Force Of Nature Was Released
I can only describe it in these terms. After the class I felt such powerful, incredible and positive energy as a result of the limiting beliefs being dissolved and it started to spill over into every area of my life. Huge energy can be unpredictable but it sure is exciting too! I loved the feeling.
Kicking The Perfectionist Off My Shoulder
All my life I have had a perfectionist on my shoulder telling me I have to do things perfectly or they are not good enough. This perfectionist came into the Dream Big Paint Big class expecting I should paint a masterpiece first time out. How mad. After the course I felt I'd lost the perfectionist and whilst still aware of my high standards I felt more productive and willing to give things a go than ever before.
Adult Colouring In Books Are Not Twee
Prior to embarking on this experience I had thought this whole trend around adult colouring in books frankly was a bit twee. With my limiting beliefs dissolved and a new colouring in book from Angela I have discovered the great and relaxing pleasure of colouring in. A kind friend even gave me a packet of colouring in pencils recently and I use them when I want to relax my mind.
All Work and No Play Is Not Good For Business
Prior to starting the course I had been working long hours on my business with no time for play and I had lost my zest and love for life. I was worn out and wasn't bringing fresh energy to my business. Through Dream Big Paint Big I re-discovered the importance of time out from work, creativity and play and how much that enlivens me and especially in my business. I'm happy to share that soon after I started the course I got a number of new clients and exciting opportunities in my business. Do this course for your business alone. It is worth it!
Creativity Exploding In Every Area Of My Life
Post the course I felt ideas exploding out of me at all hours of the day and night. I got ideas in client meetings and with friends and while at home cooking and well just everywhere. My newfound confidence in my creativity meant I was trying them out too. New ideas for clients and new recipes in the kitchen and new ideas for The Shape of Kate.
I'd love to hear your thoughts, observations and questions about my experience and your own of stepping outside your comfort zone.
If you would like to know more about Angela's courses - she runs both in person and online Dream Big Paint Big experiences. CLICK on the link below for more information.