Here are a few suggestions that I found helpful when I'm in an artistic slump. Because repetition creates boredom, I look for changes.
- Change my canvas size – I usually paint in mid range sizes but lately I’ve been working smaller. I enjoy these small canvases and because they work up fairly quickly I can experiment with new ideas. And these small paintings are very popular with my customers. Always a plus.
- Change the type of canvas – I have worked on artist quality canvas panels for years. I am now using stretched canvas, gallery wrap with a 1” profile. The edges are painted with a continuation of the painting, making framing unnecessary, unless the customer specifically requests a frame. I like the feel of this new surface and the finished look of these small paintings. And it's a relief not having to deal with framing. Another plus.
- Change of subject – For years I was a serious still life painter. I am now working with landscapes. The technical differences between the two required me to rethink my painting process - especially the differences between the shallow picture plane and controlled subject matter of a still life and the expansive picture plane and atmospheric effects of landscape painting.
- Reference material – I revisit and reorganize my reference photos both printed and digital and try to find new compositions in these old pictures. I prefer to work from my own photos and always carry my camera with me, constantly looking for new material.
- Choosing a theme – When I can’t decide on what to paint, I try to pick a theme or a subject for series of paintings. I am currently working on an ocean theme with waves and rocks. I have a new theme in mind that will have something to do with music, but I haven’t formulated it yet. When I tire of my current ocean series, I will move on to my new theme.
- Take an art class – either in person or on-line. Sometimes you need a bit of help or encouragement to solve the problem. I am currently taking an on-line figurative landscape course.
- Join Art Groups – Membership encourages participation. A great incentive to paint. The three groups that I really enjoy are Leslie Saeta’s 30/30 Challenge offered in September and January, Bill Guffy’s Virtual Paint Out with a new destination each month and Robert Hagan’s Artist Group (now a closed group, by invitation only). They are free and fun, with no commitments and only a few basic rules. And since they are on-line, I can participate at my own convenience.
- There are many other art groups to join, Facebook is a good place to search them out. If you prefer, you might find an art group in your neighborhood, or start a new group with fellow artists in your area.