Know the traps: How to use repetition to stimulate your art,
yet avoid creative stagnation & boredom
Motivating yourself back into painting is easily achieved by going back to your habitual style of painting as I mentioned in "method 1". Painting familiar subjects, using familiar colours, paper and brushes works, gets us back into the swing of painting pretty quickly.
Going back to your habitual way of painting can also "free" your mind up enough so your hand paints in an automatic fashion, whilst you are able to focus on other aspects of your painting, such as ; composition, new concepts or subjects, working on a large scale painting for the first time, or quite simply a change in material...
Familiarity can allow you to get started again when you feel stuck, precisely because it triggers your automatic painting gestures. This method is great and it works!
HOWEVER, too much repetition can also be a trap, as some people's technique becomes so automatic that they find it hard to evolvue; they get stuck ! So, is there another method that can motivate and stimulate a painter, without going back to old habits, that if used too long can lead to complacency and worse creative boredom ? The answer is: YES !
But before I explain this 3rd method. I want to draw a light on a very real challenge that all artists are faced with at some point in their careers (most amateurs too for that matter although for different reasons), as this challenge is haunting many artists today, and is part of the reaon many artists are currently feeling stuck. This challenge, is in my opinion, the greatest factor in an artist's creative development (or lack of) , and that is their signature style.
What is a signature style ?
Most professional artists have a unique style that they have shaped and used over the years, which becomes so recognizable, that when we see a painting, we often know who the artist is without looking at the signature. Their style in essence replaces their signature. This style become synonymous with the artist. It becomes easily recognizable. The use of signature images or styles is a vital part of any artist's or major company's image. You know the logo (signature) without seeing the name of the brand, just as you know the artist before looking at the signature on the painting.
In my workshops and conferences I often speak about the double-edged sword of this personal signature style. It is great for companies or artists to develop their own style and become recognizable to the public, as repetition ceates familiartity and familiarity is associated with quality and reassurance, afterall if it's everywhere, the perception is "it must be good!" In the mind repetition creates perception and familiarity that when seen or heard over and over again, becomes considered a truth. This is the basis of all effective marketing, propaganda and dogmas. Remember what Goebbels said ? "Repeat a lie often enough and people will believe it". So repetition can be your best friend, but it can also be a trap.
For an artist, where progress and evolution are desired, too much repetition creates boredom ! In my training TOME, I go a lot deeper into how you can use a recognizable painting style AND still progress, so in essence getting the recognition BUT still stimulating your progress at the same time.
But for now, the 3rd method to increase your motivation and inspiration to get your painting momentum going is to PLAY !
Playing for painting progress
Take a sheet of any old paper, or even the back of a painting you are not attached to, and play. Simply play, fusing shapes, colour, textures and tonal values. Enjoy the flow of the paint on the paper’s surface. Don’t try to paint a painting, just play. The idea here is to allow the feel of the paint and water on the paper to entice you back into painting. Try adding wax, salt, plastic or oil. Try scrubbing paint off, layering it back on... whatever you feel like doing is great !
This method really requires a total acceptation of playing, don’t look to create something wonderful. Keep that goal for your next painting 😊
Why not go further and take a page out of the world's smiliest watercolourist, Mark Mehaffey's method, and create your own "painting play day", where all you do is play with your paints and try new things one day a week. This will stimulate and create new ideas that will get your painting flowing VERY fast !!
Happy painting !