I’ve been painting pretty much as long as I can remember. Acrylics, watercolors, oils — I love anything that I can make a big, colorful mess with. There are lots of upsides to spending so much time working on one skill. Skills improve, and you get to learn about new materials and techniques. Practice really is the best way to improve any skill set.
But the flip side of that is you can get too comfortable with what you know. Before you know it, you’ve slipped into a routine of doing different versions of the same project over and over again. That’s why it’s important to take a step back from time to time and review what you’re doing.
During the past two weeks, I was working on this painting for a wedding gift. I pictured a bunch of different versions…which would be okay, but I have a habit of over thinking things to the point of not getting them done. I dove in my creating the gradient background. Just taking that first step forced me to move forward with a project I could’ve theoretically strung out forever.
On Wednesday night, I was painting the trunks for the trees, and I hit a point where I wanted to stop. The trunks alone looked okay, and I caught myself thinking “It’s fun, it’s different and I like it”. But then I realized I was playing it safe because I was worried about ruining what I had done so far. So I convinced myself to keep the momentum going and stayed up (way too late) to get it done.
Seeing the completed piece, I am really happy I forced myself to keep working and not stop at good enough. I ended up with a piece of art that I was really proud to give as a gift.
Whatever you like doing with your time, always make a point of trying to do something new or push past your usual stopping point. If you love cooking, try a new ingredient or a new twist on a favorite recipe. If you love sewing, why not dying or block printing your own fabric? There is nothing wrong with doing something you are comfortable with, but every once in a while, you need to try something new. This will keep your creative muscles strong. So do what you love, but always move forward.