Feeling Uncomfortable as an Artist


Being creative takes courage. When we create, we are making something original and that usually means we are stepping outside our comfort zone into the unknown. For most of us, this means feeling a little intimidated and uncomfortable.

Last week when I was in town (100 Mile House), I had an extra hour before my next meeting, so I drove to the recreation area with my camera. I decided to challenge myself.

In front of me was the old Halcro Arena, soon ready to be torn down. I didn’t find it particularly inviting to photograph so I decided to make it my challenge. What can I make out of this building artistically in about 30 minutes, I thought to myself? At that very moment I felt a little uncomfortable. What if I can’t make a good image? Does that mean I am not creative? Will I be a failure?

That’s the moment when I pushed myself out of the truck and just started. I started experimenting. First the  door and then the windows, the areas of greatest contrast.  After 10 minutes I jumped back into my truck to thaw my fingers (it was – 25 degrees) and looked at my images. I was not impressed!

Once I had started, however, I was into it. I no longer thought of failure; in fact I was quite excited (after all, I could delete every image and no one would ever know I was there!).  In the image below, I have marked the area I headed to next. There were subtle shapes of contrast.

Halcro Arena

Below is the image that pleased me the most. The different rectangular shapes of both colour and tonal contrast made for a composition that gave me a good feeling inside.

The most important aspect of this exercise was not the image itself, but the process of getting past that ‘uncomfortable’ feeling, to where I was excited being creative. With each such challenge, I gain a little more confidence in image making. Approaching an old and unexciting building will no longer make me feel uncomfortable; I’ll be excited from the beginning!

Halcro Arena. Abstract

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10 Comment

  1. David McCullum says: Reply

    Thank you! I love being taken through the thought process, and agree about the resulting image. Gold star!

    1. chris says: Reply

      Thanks David. I hope all is going well for you down in the Whistler area. Chris

  2. Christophe Potworowski says: Reply

    Thank you for this simple, concrete, yet powerful and encouraging example.

    1. chris says: Reply

      Thank you Christophe. I must try another challenge! They’re fun…once I get past the initial hesitation! Chris

  3. Miriam Semeniuk says: Reply

    Is the arena used currently? There seems to be no snow removed or anything to show that vehicles have dropped kids off to skate, figure skate, play hockey, curl or play broomball. It was the hub of winter sports activity and now in your pictures there are no echos.

    1. chris says: Reply

      Yes, it is used, mostly by dog and horse folk. Archery too. It looks unused but that’s because the entrance now being used is on the side. There is talk of tearing it down and building a new Rec.Centre. Not sure what is happening with that. Chris

  4. Joan Loeken says: Reply

    Chris: I love your abstract – amazing image. It certainly tells me to keep going and exploring more of a scene I am photographing. Your artistry continues to amaze me.

  5. chris says: Reply

    Thank you Joan. The poem you shared with me, The Stone, has me inspired too. I can’t wait until the snow goes to find some!! Chris

  6. Vera Busse says: Reply

    Hi Chris, just going thru some books and found the BC Rail book. Copyright 1993.
    What great pictures and exciting history. You are Magic.
    I lived in Clinton and took the train often to Whistler many years ago. Around 1998 until it stopped the passengers. A sad day.
    Today as it goes through Lillooet I always ask why no passengers?
    It’s all about money. What a terrific trip it would be again.
    They have the bud car that goes on Friday you can go to Seton and back. Quite the trip.
    Just wanted to tell you we are really enjoying the pictures.
    Was a long winter but the colours are coming back and we have done a couple hikes in the lower spots.
    Birds are singing, so am I.
    Enjoy the spring I am looking forward to a trip to the 108. Might get to see you up there.
    Vera Busse

    1. chris says: Reply

      Thank you for your comment. Photographing the BC Railway book was an amazing self assignment; a real adventure. I drove 50,000 km that summer chasing trains and light. I’ll never forget it. I wish it was still around too!

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