Last week, I took a Composition for Beginner Artists class. I've always been terrified of art class. I had a negative experience with an art teacher when I was young. Since that point, I have done everything I could to avoid art. I cut art class in middle school, faked illnesses, made genius excuses about skipping art class. As an adult I've said, “I’m not the creative type.” Lately, I've been working on identifying my fears, stepping out of my comfort zone and examining my inner critic. So, taking an art class was a perfect experiment for me.
My first night of class, every introduced themselves and I could smell the artist on them. They describe how they are videographers, how they want to arrange the colors of the gardens, etc. I was thinking to myself, I’m just here to learn how to take artsy photos of my cat.
Deer In The Headlights
During class we learned about the different elements of composition like shape, line, value, etc. Then, we went into the studio to attempt creating photos of each element. My heart immediately started racing and I was immobile. My inner critic was screaming in my head. I must have had the “deer in the headlights look,” because my instructor smiled and said, “Just start snapping pictures.” Oh, and she reminded me that it was supposed to feel like play.
This experience brought back the experience of taking yoga for the first time, or going to a gym for the first time. We've all been next to the girl in yoga class who speaks in Sanskrit and has studied yoga at an ashram in India. Or, the guy benching 315 lbs., while we fear that we’re going to drop our 10-lb. dumbbells on our face. It can feel shaming, impossible, defeating, you name it.
Since last week I've checked out five books on photography composition. I've over-analyzed and criticized every photo I've taken. But on the other hand, I've faced a new fear. I've identified another instance when my inner critic shouts at me; and, I've definitely stepped out of my comfort zone.
Will next week’s class make me nervous again? Most definitely. Will I try it again? Yes. Next week, I might even try laughing at myself, having fun, and making the experience feel like play.
I encourage you to try a new activity that makes you nervous. Not only will you stand up to your fears, step out of your comfort zone, and develop a new relationship with your inner critic. But, you might laugh at yourself, or find something fun to do. Something that feels like play.