Endurance sport teaches one to “Become comfortable with being uncomfortable”.
This gold nugget of wisdom also applies to creativity.
It builds emotional resilience, confidence, tenacity, growth, physical and creative endurance.
What does it mean to be comfortable with being uncomfortable?
Aside from elements you can control ( like training, preparation, practice) you understand and accept there will be unknown variables in every (painting/ race) and moments will arise where you will be ‘uncomfortable’.
The benefit of this acceptance, is it frees one to move forward without being attached to fear of failure.
It also creates an opportunity to conserve positivity, while not wasting energy rejecting/ fighting this variable when it occurs. It helps to be both open and curious in these moments.
I am not suggesting anticipating obstacles in negative fashion, rather, not being freaked out when it happens.
I came upon a friend at the 30k mark in her first marathon, announcing she wasn’t feeling well. After ruling out injury, dehydration, & nutritional concerns, we concluded she was struggling with not feeling as fresh as she did earlier. These feelings compounded because she was angry for being tired, anticipating a different experience. I assured her no one was feeling zippy at that point in the race. “You are uncomfortable, and it’s ok”.
In acknowledgement, there is release.
Uncomfortable feelings and setbacks may increase with rigid expectations, in both art & sport.
In Ironman racing, so many variables are beyond the athletes control it can feel overwhelming. Training involves body & mind, learning there will be moments of uncertainty & feeling uncomfortable. Knowing this can be the edge one needs to stay on track. Approaching the start line, reassurance lies in the many hours of training, controlling elements that can be controlled, and then, going with the flow.
It may seem a stretch to compare painting a picture to endurance sport, but when one’s livelihood depends on it, performance pressure can take a toll on both athletes and artists.
Do artists develop their process thru failed attempts, then, finally ‘get it’ and woo woo, ride the train of prolific effortless productivity for the remainder of their careers?
“Humility and a Bonfire”, dispels this myth.
Two similar aspects of endurance sport & art relate to results and performance.
Being a professional doesn’t mean constant flawless performance. The great ones master the art of letting go, failure doesn’t own them, it’s just part of the process.
They step to the start line respecting the process in sport & art.
No matter the outcome, the fire to improve, evolve & master doesn’t fade.
In painting, each canvas is a new puzzle to solve. Each may thrill, motivate, frustrate and humble an artist. Many decisions are made along the way, not in advance. It’s like having a box of four puzzles in pile, trying to figure what might fit and what doesn’t. Once those decisions are made, you cannot go back.
In painting, rule is think twice, paint once, yet, ironically, don’t overthink. Artists walk a tightrope between the two. A famous artist whose career spans decades confessed to me he “feels fearful every time he faces a new canvas.”
Every canvas is a new story, with it’s own unique challenges and discoveries. Coping with unexpected variables builds adaptability. Research suggests it may increase neuroplasticity because of the ‘ongoing learning factor’.
“What is the most significant barrier to creativity and innovation?” ‘Daring Greatly author Brene Brown asked Kevin Surace .
His response? “The fear of introducing a new idea and being laughed at.”
Brene continues “Learning and creating are inherently vulnerable. There is never enough certainty. People want guarantees.”
Desire for guarantees frequents the art industry.
It’s in the uncertain moments where magic can flourish.
In letting go of the idea creativity is a natural talent & art is a totally controllable process; like those rare brilliant sport performances, we recognize how special those gems of masterful work are.
New work in progress ( first photo) 4ft x2ft oil on canvas
Mountain ~ 4ft x3ft oil on canvas avail for purchase
Amaryllis ~ 30×40 oil on deep profile canvas avail for purchase