Painting with a Twist

By Holly Russel, Regular ContributorSeptember 6, 2015

Last Tuesday, a few friends and I signed up for an art class. I have never created anything on a canvas before, but I’ve seen plenty of people make perfectly nice paintings in those Wine & Design classes, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

I consider myself fairly artistic. At one time in my life I was a ballerina. I am now a writer, and I truly love art and creativity in all of its expressions. So painting seemed like something a little different to try, and I thought it would be really fun.

It was terrifying.

This was not one of those classes where they sketch out a picture beforehand and you just fill it in with pretty colors. This was an actual lesson where a real artist who knew what she was doing demonstrated some brush strokes and painting techniques and then unleashed us to create whatever we wanted on the blank canvas before us.

I surprised myself with how uneasy I felt about not being told what to do, not having a prescribed course to follow, and having to put something of myself out there in a tangible way for everyone to see.

I just wanted the instructor to tell me what to paint and how to paint it. I was afraid to start. What if I made a mess? What if I couldn’t do it? What if halfway through I decided I didn’t like what I was creating? And why did everyone else seem so sure of themselves and the direction they wanted to take?


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And then I realized that I’ve felt this way before. I felt it when I graduated from high school and moved across the country to pursue dance. I felt it again when I quit ballet to study at NYU; then again after I earned my degree and had to figure out how I was going to get a job and what it was I really wanted to do.

As I sat there, I realized I have felt that undercurrent of panic at least a dozen times as I’ve been figuring out what kind of life I want to create for myself. Nobody tells you how to do it, and that’s really scary.

But every time I have trusted myself and had the courage to just begin, things have always fallen into place.

My painting isn’t anything to write home about, and it won’t be hanging over my mantle, but I am proud of it because I threw caution to the wind and made something out of nothing. So many times in life we get stuck in our fears and wait on someone to tell us what to do next, but the only person who can really determine your course is you.

You may not always know which brush strokes to use or even what you want the big picture to be, but I encourage you all to step outside of your comfort zone and give something that scares you a try. You never know – you may wind up creating something really beautiful.

Let's chat!

Have you ever felt this sense of uneasiness? How did you overcome it? How do you step out of your comfort zone? Tell us below!

About Holly

HOLLY_RUSSEL_writer_bio_(1).jpgHolly Russel has a BA in Journalism from New York University. She’s a Senior Marketing Copywriter for a pet health company and counts dogs among her favorite things on the planet – along with tacos, books, social media, and the City of New York. When she makes it out from behind the computer screen, Holly spends her time practicing yoga, kayaking, and indoor cycling. She lives and writes in Wilmington, NC. 


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