I know artists who believe that in order to develop in one's craft, one must ALWAYS work outside the comfort zone.
I just returned from a trip to rural Iowa, and my assessment of that premise was represented frequently along the shoulders of remote country backroads. HORSE PUCKY!
Before said trip, I think I had followed this advice for a bit too long. I'd been working on a few paintings that challenge my ability to use perspective to create architectural elements (which drives me batty!) and involve foreshortening (which intrigues me but also drives me batty!) I've also been reaching beyond the reference photo to add elements to my paintings that weren't "there" but which would add to the composition.
All of this together transforms painting from being an activity that makes me giggle, dance, and lose my sense of time into a long math problem that makes me check my watch every 10 minutes and tear out my hair! Or worse---makes me procrastinate and avoid the studio all together.
When I discovered that I was folding laundry and reading National Geographic to avoid painting, I knew that something must be done!
The first thing I did was put the street scene I was working on in TIME OUT. (Ironically, it is a picture of Bourbon Street during Carnival--which should NEVER impart an overwhelming sense of angst!) The second thing I did was to look through my archive of photos until I found something that got the juices flowing.
What immediately got the mojo working was a fuzzy, out-of-focus photo I took on my phone while watching a Led Zeppelin concert on a big screen. This shot of Robert Plant with that sweet little glint of reflection in the lower left got me back into the studio with a smile on my face.
To give my former state of art anxiety a further heave-ho, I painted it over a multimedia piece I had done a few years ago that despite the painstaking work I'd put into it, was received like a pile of congealed pablum.
I knocked this piece out in about 2 1/2 hours. After standing back to appreciate it, I had a bite to eat and dared to look at the New Orleans street scene. Immediately, I saw what it needed. I whipped out my Bourbon Street photos and sketched in a couple figures in the dreary lower right corner.
I anticipate returning to Bourbon Street tomorrow! Let the good times roll. And every hair on my head is intact.