I was thinking recently of one of the first times I painted live in public. It was the first time I had ever applied for an EOI as a live painter for hire and didn’t think I’d score the job. I was wrong. The client saw my brightly coloured abstract paintings and loved them. As the event approached I started to feel nervous. I wondered why the hell I’d decided to push myself outside of my comfort zone. I spent an eon trying to decide what to paint and then a couple of days before the event, the client mentioned they had a theme for the painting to tie in with the event! What? Being predominantly an abstract painter, that threw me into a bit of a spin.

Setting up at the event I was nervous initially but then just started painting intuitively, trying to forget people were watching. At that point, I realised I’d stuffed up by leaving the white paint at home! So I made do with what I had and eased into the painting, relaxing as time wore on (and the beers kicked in). I finished the painting by the designated time and stood up on stage in front of 400 people while it was auctioned off.

I ended up enjoying the night, the interaction with guests and being part of a successful fundraising event. Knowing that my painting was going off into the night to be hung in a new home was also rewarding. People are genuinely curious and interested in watching live creation. For the most part, they are positive and friendly. I have now produced several projects in front of an audience and quite enjoy the engagement aspect. You certainly meet some intriguing people from all walks of life.

My point? Step outside your comfort zone and experience something new. It will strengthen your practice no matter what that may be, and build confidence. It can also lead you down different avenues, to more interesting projects, meeting new people and collaborations. There has to be a first time for everything right, so why wait?