One of the challenges of being a full time artist is keeping our work fresh. Fresh for both myself and the viewer. It is so easy to get stuck in a routine and not notice anything new. I was thinking about this because a friend asked about a restaurant nearby. I had no clue it was there. I drive by it all the time but I can't eat there because of my food allergies so its presence doesn't even register in my brain. As a matter of fact, if you ask me what restaurants are near my home or studio I can't answer because I simply don't know.
Many artists I know find that visiting museums helps them generate fresh ideas. For others it is being outside. I find those helpful too but my favorite way to keep fresh is by taking classes well outside my main media. Classes outside of my comfort zone. For years I have attended Art and Soul which is a national mixed media art retreat with classes from every genre you can think of! Painting, journaling, assemblage, stitch, book binding, jewelery, encaustic, metal and more. I love this retreat and now even teach there.
When taking a new class, as a student I am pushed to learn techniques that are completely foreign to me. As a teacher I get a chance to remember just how a student feels when they are trying something for the first time. It is usually really uncomfortable for me. It is a win on both fronts because it helps me to be a better teacher. Many times I never use the exact technique I learned in a class but there is always a nugget that I bring back into my textile art. It might be something as simple as a new color combination I have never used before or it might be a bigger slap upside the head a-ha that brings about dramatic changes in my approach or thinking.
These photos are from a recent book making class. We begin by spreading paint with wild abandon. I find it so freeing to create these colorful pages. It is only paint and paper so there is less stress and that sense of freedom and joy painting helps me with my fabric surface design work.
It is natural that because I take so many classes that I also teach a wide variety of classes. I teach quite a few textile based classes of course but I also teach visual journaling, book binding and jewelery too. I admit to being a bit of a technique junkie and I love them all! Well, except soldering. I am not a fan of soldering. I find that by mixing these various classes in with my textile based classes that I don't get bored teaching the same thing over and over. It helps me to keep my teaching fresh. It also exposes me to the influence of a wide variety of students. I always learn from my students.
What do you do to keep your work fresh? I would love to hear your opinion.