Here are a few little paintings I did last week in my efforts to step out of my comfort zone. I felt like it was time to challenge myself with new subjects that I don't usually choose to draw or paint. I think it is essential for artists to schedule in time every now and then for experimentation with different types of techniques, supplies and/or subjects because throughout these we are able not only to expand our abilities, but we are also able to learn about our own likes, dislikes and possible areas of opportunity. In my opinion, an artist should never stop learning and improving. We are creatives and most of us are innately curious creatures. We should use this curiosity to propel us to learn.
Here are my five suggestions to break out of an artistic rut:
1. Try drawing/painting an object, person, landscape (or whatever it is you usually create) in a different perspective. Do you always draw things from side view? Try doing a top view! Try doing extreme close-ups! It's impressive how much we can learn when we try to draw or paint a subject we've done a million times before, only in a different angle or arrangement!
2. Use different supplies to create your artwork. Do you usually create pencil drawings? Try a drawing with pens or charcoal sticks! Do you usually paint with watercolors? Try acrylics or gouache! You can even create a mixed-media artwork with a combination of supplies! You'll notice that in the boat and sofa studies I used my LePen Drawing pen which I had never used with watercolors before.
3. Pick a different subject all-together. Are you usually drawn to painting faces? Create a landscape or a still life piece! How can your current style translate into an artwork with a different kind of primary subject?
4. Plan and prepare a limited color palette that includes colors you wouldn't normally use. Take a look at the work you have created lately. Do you mostly use warm colors? Try using mostly cool (or vice versa)! Is there a specific color you usually leave out? Try creating a palette that includes it! Do you usually like a lot of color in your paintings? Try selecting a triad or analogous colors in the color wheel and only work with those! You can also try to select one color and use it as undertone for all the other colors you use in your painting.
5. Create Pinterest boards (or a folder in your computer) to collect artwork that calls to you for your own reference/inspiration. Check mine out here! You can then go back to it in times of experimentation and pinpoint specific things you'd like to try out. You feel attracted to these artworks for a reason! Try to target and make notes of specific characteristics you like (maybe it's the colors the artist used, the line work, how effectively emotions are transmitted, etc.) and try to implement it in your own original artwork.
Lastly, just do it! Don't sit there hours on end trying to decide. Just take action! And remember, these studies aren't meant to be masterpieces. It's more about what you learn during the process than the end product. I suggest trying your best to power through the drawing or painting so that your study reaches some form of conclusion. Make notes of what was difficult, what you have to make sure to do differently next time, or any new ideas that you'd like to try.
I leave you with a great quote by French artist Eugene Delacroix:
“The artist who aims at perfection in everything achieves it in nothing."
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