In this whole process of change, we’re spending more time in our homes than ever and we’ve needed to use our space differently. Many people are using this time to remodel their homes and yards. I wonder if, like me, they are seeing the spaces in their homes from a different perspective; realizing what works and what doesn’t.
I’ve had to take a fresh look at my art-making space. How I normally used the space wasn’t working anymore as my needs changed. I wanted to shift into providing telehealth for my clients which meant I needed to reconfigure my space. Basically, I had to change my entire studio around to create a conducive background for teletherapy. It soon became a disaster zone with boxes, art supplies, books and furniture spilling into the rest of the house as I began to rearrange my space from this new perspective.
It was both exciting and uncomfortable. The chaos felt overwhelming at times, but in order for me to move forward, I realized I must embrace the discomfort and make the changes. Thankfully all of my efforts paid off. I love my reconfigured studio space. Now it only takes a few moments for me to make a shift if I want to have my daughter make art with me, to conduct an interview over Zoom, or to provide a telehealth art therapy session.
Encouraged by the experience, I’m allowing that same change to occur in my own art-making process. I’m embracing the discomfort by trying new materials, tools and methods; trying things I’ve never done before. It can be messy and uncomfortable, especially for those of us who want perfection. When we expect everything we do to be a masterpiece, we tend to not challenge ourselves to step out of our own box and we miss out on new discoveries.
For example, here is my practice dot painting piece that looks pretty awful.
I didn’t understand how to use the tools yet. I didn’t know to space the dots or when to layer the paint. I gave myself permission to make a mess and fail on this first one. It was freeing to just play with the new tools and not have unrealistic expectations of myself.
Here’s another attempt; it’s not perfect, but it’s interesting and fun. I’m learning. They are both works in progress, and that’s okay, as I too am a work in progress. We all are.
I’m embracing the discomfort of not being good at something in order to learn something new and continue to grow creatively. I always want to remain teachable.
By doing this, I’ve discovered a new, unexpected source of relaxation using a process which is very different from my other work. I’ve found a painting method that is very soothing and comforting to me.
You never know what you are going to find when you try something new. You never know what you are going to discover. This process also has a ripple effect. When you expand your mind to learn new things, new languages, or new skills, you become a better problem solver. You are expanding into areas of your brain that have been resting. Experimenting gives your brain a much appreciated workout.
Transform the need for perfection into a mind of curiosity. Allow yourself to move in small steps. If you are unable to embrace discomfort in one area of your life, try it in another area. The practice can transfer to other areas of your life when you are ready. Be gentle with yourself and just try something different. Embrace discomfort.
– Lisa Lounsbury, MA, LMFT, ATR-BC, Executive Director of Art Lab Rx, LLC