So, things have been getting a little stale in the studio lately, right?
If you answered “yes,” here are 10 recommendations for things you can do to try and give yourself—and yourself—the chance to reboot and feel good about your work again.
1) Revisit an influence
However you can do it—by making a museum visit, reading books or magazines or searching the web—get back to looking hard at that one key artist who always inspires you. Take some time, study the work, drink it in. Ask yourself: “What is the magic in this work?” and ask yourself how you can bring some of that magic to what you do.
2) Make the work you have never seen before
This advice comes from painter Bo Bartlett, who offered it to a group of my students during a recent Skype session. Honestly, it’s pretty simple isn’t it? Ask yourself what you haven’t seen—in the galleries, in the magazines, or anywhere else—and give yourself the license to make it.
3) Look harder at your own work
There is a kind of “DNA” in your work that encompasses all your studies, ideas and influences over time. Look hard at some work from earlier in your career and then take something from it that deserves to be revisited.
4) Take a day off
Maybe the problem is that you simply need a break. Plan a day in your favorite place, possibly (hopefully) with a great friend and a great meal. Try not to talk about art. Oh, and stay off social media for a day while you are at it.
5) Try a new medium
You don’t have to spend a ton of money on supplies: just try a some new media or materials. If you are on a budget go Rauschenberg and try junk or recycled materials. Seriously...
6) Burn a few things
Take some of the work that has sat in your studio for years and take it to the dump or—if you are in a location where it can be done safely—burn it. You will be amazed how clean you feel afterwards. Don’t put it on social media and tell your friends “I’m offering bargain prices on some old work” because then your worst work will be turning up and haunting you for years.
7) Reach out to an artist you respect
However you can do it—via e-mail, phone, or in person—contact an artist you respect. Really, don’t be shy. Let them know that you would love to visit their studio and chat sometime. They might say “no,” but if they say “yes” you may just have a life-changing experience. Be brave.
8) Lower your standards
It sounds so wrong, but it can be so right. Is it possible you have forgotten how to have fun in the studio?
9) Get rid of the best part
When asked what he did when stuck in a painting, Picasso once answered “I get rid of the best part.” Sometimes the part that you think is great is actually holding you back.
10) Please yourself
Honestly, who are you doing this for? Are you still pleasing your friends, a certain critic, your ex-partner, the public as you perceive it, or your third grade teacher who you loved?
Then stop it now and just try pleasing yourself for a change.