Thursday, May 5, 2011

How to stay fresh in your art when you are feeling stale

Several years ago, John Williams came to Philadelphia and conducted his music at the Mann Music Center.  I love John Williams' music and soundtracks.  Many of us grew up with the music from Star Wars, ET and Raiders of the Lost Ark.  These musical compositions made the movies.  When we attended the John Williams concert at the Mann, we knew we were in for a real treat.  We weren't disappointed.  However, when he went through a lot of old stuff, you could tell the difference between the old stuff, and the new he progressed from the older stuff, you could hear in his musical conducting, the enthusiasm of playing something newer.  It sounded newer, fresher.  When he got to Harry Potter, it gave us goosebumps because he attacked with the excitement he must have felt when he was conducting it for us.  It was amazing.  Even my kids were enthralled.
As visual artists, we continue to paint what we know, but also, sometimes paint what is expected of us because it's what people want from us.  However, it can make us stale or even lose enthusiasm for the subject.  Sometimes you need to take a different path so you don't become stale or lose your drive, so that your paintings don't look like the old music that John Williams conducted many, many times over and over through the years.   You need that time to experiment and play with your materials, or even try new materials or new subject matter. Change it up, change your venue.  Attack it from a different point of view...try painting something you normally would avoid just for the challenge. You can still do your bread and butter, but paint new subjects or try new media just to keep yourself fresh, trust me, it will keep the old stuff fresh and you'll be more enthusiastic about it, too!  Change is good!


  1. I once heard someone say "don't just paint what you know, paint what you are interested in" If the same old thing starts to get boring, experimentation and challenges can definitely be interesting.

  2. You should the quote I posted on Facebook.....

    "I have but one desire as a painter – that is to paint what I see, as I see it, in my own way, without regard for the desires or taste of the professional dealer or the professional collector."- Georgia O’Keeffe


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