Don't you think that if you even entertain the notion of a "comfort zone", fear plays into your art life? Certainly plays into mine. I find even a small step, a minor alteration in how I approach something gets me out of my comfort zone. I usually contemplate whatever it is I'm, going to try...essentially visualizing how it's going to work for a good long time...then go for it. Somehow in my mind...by visualizing it for a while, by the time I actually do it, I feel like I've done it before...so...I guess I'm in a not-so-uncomfortable-zone.
Find an artistic prompt that you think is boring, corny, or otherwise totally not worth your time. Then do it anyway, but make it creative.
I wrote a story for a the last round of a writing contest. The prompt was "Write a story about you, the author, interacting with your characters." My first thought (and apparently a lot of other people's first thought) was obviously "Some crazy weird magic happens, and the characters either appear in the real world, or I, the author, get transported into the story. Everybody goes WHOA! and we deal with it." Kind of boring and definitely done before.
Then I thought of something more creative and wrote this: [link]
When I was younger my comfort zone wasn't because I was afraid but because it was what I liked doing, possibly because it was easy. But at school I did different things because drawing anime didn't quite pass when you were meant to be doing a realistic self portrait or such.
I always enjoyed the duality of it, like Art for School was serious, and the Anime scribblings was just for me. So I never really pushed myself with my personal work but I did with my school work. My difficulty now as a professional out of school is reconciling the two halves of me to create on unified front, which is happening slowly XD
I think the main thing for me now (that uni bashed into me) was not being precious with your work and accepting sometimes shit looks bad or goes wrong. That doesn't mean you're a crap artist, it usually means you tried something new and haven't perfected it yet. You just have to think "well that didn't work. Why? And how do I make it work? Let's try something else." not "oh it failed I give up". I enjoy the process of failing and sketching and working out the final image more than the image itself sometimes.
In the end "it's just paper" and you don't have to show anyone if you don't want to, so what is there to be afraid of, embarrassment? No one will see it. And esp if you're a digital drawer you don't even waste paper if you screw up! You don't even have to save the file!
I screw up several drawings a day but every time I screw up I learn something not to do, and the more you know not to do the more you're narrowing down how the right way to do it for you is.
Very very true. Sometimes when I'm sketching in my sketchbook, I rip out pages I'm embarrassed of. Which makes no sense really because no one else is going to see it, but me. But I feel like even just mindlessly sketching I have a hard time letting loose and just going with it. I have too high standards even then.