The Comfort Zone
As an artist, it can be easy to fall into the comfort zone of sticking to what you are good at--one style, one medium, one subject matter. While honing a specific skill and working to excel in a particular area is certainly important, if that's all you do, it can create a sense of stagnancy that leads many artists into a state of dissatisfaction. Working as an artist can be an isolating life as it is, and without the stimulation of learning something new, growing, interacting with other artists, and expanding yourself, you might find yourself an UNhappy artist!
I often find myself slipping into this comfortable, familiar habit and, when I start feeling the side effect of boredom, I know it's time for me to get a little uncomfortable and try something new. This can come in the form of trying out a new technique, taking a class, or keeping an art challenge journal with a new experiment each day. The options are endless.
I'm a slow painter, so occasionally I give myself a time limit: two hours to start and finish a painting in its entirety. For me, this is HARD, but it has produced some pretty great results! I've done this three times so far, and all three of the paintings I created sold almost immediately. I considered them practice, but forcing yourself to try new things can produce great results, and for me, literally paid off.
Recently, I decided to learn a new medium: colored pencils. Some people may find colored pencils a simple medium, but I am used to paint that mixes, blends, and, if I make a mistake, I can paint right over it. These things are not true of colored pencil, so I'm learning a new set of rules and techniques. And guess what? It turns out, I really like colored pencils, and I am enjoying growing in this way! I'm also working on midtone paper for the first time and pulling in highlights and lowlights, a technique I may bring to my paintings.
Expanding my mind and improving my technical abilities keeps things fresh and has, without fail, broadened my repertoire, improved my art, and rejuvenated me mentally and emotionally. I encourage you to keep growing yourself, both artistically and as a whole person.