Stretching your comfort zone.

We all have our favorite subjects to paint or favorite pallete we tend to use and drifting into those comfortable places when we sit down to paint is perfectly ok. After all, we paint because we love what we do and time is often at a premium. It is easy to just launch and not search for a subject that makes a new statement but is instead a tried and true image or formula.

That being said, sometimes we need to stretch our creative muscles.

Occasionally I will look at photographs I have taken and think of what attracted me to the view or image at that moment. Was it redeemable? Could it be a worthwhile painting? That question is what stops me today and makes me wonder, ‘what is my purpose for any particular painting session?’ And yes, the reason can vary!

If our reason to paint on any given day is purely to relax and have fun then that can be enough. If, however, we decide that we want to expand our abilities beyond the improvement that occurs with practice, we might also be heightening the risk of failure. I wonder how much pressure I place on myself for the time at the easel to be fruitful, and equating fruitful to time wasted and the potential loss of revenue.

Although I may say I am not painting to make my living, I must admit I don’t want to purely paint in my own vacuum and store work or gift it like I did early in my career. Perhaps I am not being genuine when I say it then? I do want to sell most of what I paint. I would like to share what I do with others. It’s gratifying and lucrative and therefor, helpful.

That begs the introspection of assessing why we’re painting in any given day and as a result, the potential censure of painting something that may fail because to fail means it won’t sell. That’s a self defeating loop. We need to continually challenge ourselves and gamble with potential failure. Yes, sometimes we need to paint for the pleasure, and sometimes we need to paint for revenue. Improvement is dependent on challenge so perhaps we should also include, sometimes we paint to stretch.

As for myself, I know I need to continually stretch outside my comfort zone so that I can expand the perimeters of that comfort zone, improve the quality of my work, and succeed more often than I fail by facing the challenges head on. It might actually, potentially, result in more sales.


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