My sister Sarah is my go-to gal when I am in the need of conversation that can be at any given time (and often in the same sentence) stimulating, heart wrenching but always downright hilarious. We have spent untold hours on the phone and in person cracking each other up over the irritating minutiae of life. No tidbit is considered too trivial or too far in our past for us to discuss and ruminate over.
But every once in a while one of us is yammering on about a subject even we recognize as over-analyzed and picked apart so far that even we can’t stand it. I think Sarah was the first to say,
“Holy Moley, I am boring myself to tears. I cannot imagine what I am doing to you.”
This occasionally repeated phrase is code for, “Fer cryin’ out loud,let’s move on! We we cannot possibly be this dull!” And we do and we find something waaay more interesting to talk about. Like what we’re making for dinner.
Well, that was an amusing little story*, but let’s get back to the art business, shall we?
Artists strive to develop a “style” –some recognizable element that makes them stand out in the crowd and makes a distinctive mark on the world. Of course an artist’s range can vary but once they hit their “sweet spot” they tend to stay in that place, varying their work through different subjects and new images. But eventually the well starts to run dry and our little artist keeps finding herself serving up designs that are sort of okaaaay but lacking that original zing and shiny luster of the initial concepts. And our little artist has become bored.
And dare I say it? She has become…bor-ING!
So what happened here? She’s had her head down churning out idea after idea in her attempt to serve her style, just like she is supposed to do. The problem is she keeps going back to the same well for her inspirations. And she keeps coming up with the same basic look just changed up with a new color scheme or a different season but it’s really more of the same. This girl needs to get out more.
It’s called “filling your cup”, people.
When you find yourself restless and bored with what you are doing or wondering what you should do next, it’s time to take yourself out of the studio. Go to a museum—natural history, art, your local historical society–heck, maybe even the Mustard Museum**—can you imagine the cool vintage labels they might have there? Go to the dustier parts of the library. A botanical garden or arboretum. Go walk in the woods. Take a class in a medium you don’t normally use. Stop using Google images and Instagram as your only reference source. Find new inspirations and perspectives to bring back with you to the studio. Do this often, pretend like it’s your job.
Oh, wait—it is your job!
Because if you find your work boring, you can only imagine what it’s doing to us.
Sarah said so.
*Hey, I have seven sisters, there are sure to be more of them.
**It’s a place, really. Here’s the link.