Challenging yourself

Challenging yourself – or at least your pre-conceived ideas about yourself is an interesting exercise. I’m sure that in the main, it is self-fulfilling. In the words of Henry Ford: “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right”.  But once in a while, you’re surprised and delighted to find that you were wrong.

Last October I took a leap and challenged the idea I’d harboured all my life: the one that said I have no artistic ability.  I immersed myself in drawing and painting for 4 days at Chenevaux and that was it – I was hooked. Mark’s teaching style was perfect – he knew exactly how much structure and theory to give me, and how much freedom to explore. The result was a mini portfolio of 4 paintings and a sketch book which I was determined to get into my miniscule Ryan Air luggage allowance, even if I had to leave my shoes behind.

My first finished picture. It wasn't framed when it went into my Ryan Air allowance

My first reaction was to want to be able to do it all Right Now! I am impatient and demanding of myself by nature and I expected every blank piece of paper to become a finished painting. When I reached a point where I felt I needed an outside perspective, Jo Tunmer persuaded me to start putting photos of my paintings on Facebook. What a scary moment that was! But also, as it turned out, a fantastic piece of advice and a wonderful motivation to paint more. I love the fact that people seem enjoy looking at my work.

Lori Bentley in FranceMy fabulously talented sister who was always ‘the artistic one’ in the family, has been a really valuable sounding board. (I was ‘the numbers one’).

Challenging yourself – the next steps:

It felt hugely presumptuous to think that I could paint something worth putting on exhibition. And yet that seemed a good milestone to aim for. So, aim for it I did. And early in October I had a series of my painting in a local exhibition for the first time.  My first year of painting has been a massive eye-opener in so many ways. Finding out that painting can be learned (even by someone who has always been ‘the numbers one’), watching and waiting for a style to emerge (still waiting..), and in many cases looking at a finished work and finding it difficult to believe that I did that (even though I was there at the time 🙂 ).

So the question now is: what will you to to start challenging yourself?