You’ve been an artist for a long time. Perhaps you’ve even been in business as an artist for a long time. But for some reason, you can’t work up the same sort of enthusiasm for art that you used to.
In other words, you’re bored with your subject, your medium, or your art in general. . . so what do you do?
1. Don’t panic
The first thing to do is not panic. What you’re experiencing is not unique to artists, and is not unique to you. No matter how much a person loves what they do, there comes a time when it goes stale. Routine sets in and enthusiasm wanes.
If you haven’t yet reached this point in your art career, prepare for it. If you have reached it, then try the following ideas to re-energize yourself and your art.
2. Try something new in your chosen medium
You can get as fancy and involved as you wish, or keep things simple. The key is to learn something new.
My most recent excursion into learning was a plunge into the deep end. Colored pencil artist Amy Lindenberger wrote a book on color mixing and blending called Colors – A Workbook. And it is, literally, a workbook!
There are enough drawing exercises in this book to keep an artist like me busy for three or four months. But you know what? It has taken the pressure off drawing and given me a reason to spend as much time as possible drawing without having “to produce.”
On occasion, I simply try something fun, wild, and experimental with colored pencils–using watercolor pencils like watercolors, for example. Or mixing India ink or watercolors with colored pencils. Or drawing on something outside the norm, like a piece of wood or even a piece of glass.
Whether it’s open-ended experimentation or a structured class, learning something new is always a great way to see your art in a new light!
3. Try creating in a very different style
If you usually paint large, then try a miniature. If your art is usually detailed and realistic, then paint an abstract or two. Or maybe something in the impressionist style.
Do small, quick studies instead of complete paintings. Or try timed drawings. Draw as quickly as you can for fifteen minutes, then call that sketch done and move on to the next.
There’s a lot of flexibility in this suggestion because you’re limited only by your imagination (the ideas you can come up with) and your courage (the willingness to try something new at least once.) Oh, and here’s one other tip. Give yourself permission to make some really bad drawings!
4. Try a new medium
Trying something new with your current medium may not work for you. You might need something more involved, or more outside the box. . . like a new medium, perhaps.
For example, if your work is usually quite controlled and your favorite mediums reflect that, then try a medium that makes control more difficult. A medium with a mind of its own. Watercolor comes immediately to my mind.
If you’re a 2D artist, try something 3D or vice versa.
I’m serious! Did you ever fingerpaint when you were young? Do you remember how much fun that was? If you’re bored with your life as a professional artist, then slip back into kid mode and make art like you once did. Messy. Usually big. Bright. Colorful. Spontaneous.
Go back to whatever it was that got you hooked on art in the first place. Spend some time there and see if the joy doesn’t return!
6. Do something creative that isn’t art
There are thousands of ways to be creative that wouldn’t be considered art by many. Here are a few that have worked for me over the years.
I’ve always enjoyed reading, so it was natural to take up writing at an early age. For years, I focused on fiction writing. Writing stories was the perfect balance for painting portraits of horses. It was my “hobby.”
Later, I took up web design and learned to write HTML code. I had a lot of fun with that and, for a while, it took the place of writing.
More recently, I started publishing. First a monthly magazine, now tutorials for other artists. There’s a lot of creativity involved in graphic design, finding easy-to-read ways to lay out text and images so they make sense and look good.
Other suggestions are gardening, sewing, and quilting. Even putting jigsaw puzzles together.
You may not have to go that far afield to find something that sparks an interest in you. Chances are good that if you’re an artist, you’re also creative in other ways. Give time to those other creative outlets to rekindle an interest in your art.
7. Get musical
I’ve recently been discussing music with a friend of mine who is an avid colored pencil artist. She recently bought a flute and is taking lessons on Udemy. It’s another creative outlet for her.
It might be exactly what you need to recharge your creative energies, too.
8. Just take a day or two off
People of all types take vacations. Blue collar, white collar, no collar. Even self-employed people take time off. I grew up on a dairy farm. There wasn’t a lot of opportunity for long vacations, but those times when we were able to get away for an afternoon were re-energizing.
“But I’m an artist,” you say. So what? You still need time off!
Put away those supplies, close that studio door and take a few days to relax. Do something for fun. Even if you don’t travel, stay away from that studio. It’s best if you block out the time in advance. That gives you the opportunity to finish everything that needs to be finished before you go. But more than that, having vacation time blocked off on your calendar makes it easier to accept when the time comes. And it makes going back to the studio easier, too.
Those are just a few suggestions. Not all of them will help you, but you now have a place to start, and sometimes that’s all you need. See where they take you!
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