Friday, 4 April 2014

My Artist Inspiration has Dried Up: How do I Get More Creative?

The artist may take pride in perfecting an oil painting, finding ever better ways of applying detail or smoothing glazes. Taking risks in art may get lost in the pursuit of technical perfection. Without realizing, the artist may become complacent in one subject area or one approach to oil painting. What can the artist do to find new ways of expression?

Chagall's I and the Village (left) Munch's The Scream (right) 
Perfect Detail on Animal Painting, Plants and Skies

Exploring art techniques may yield one particular approach the artist favors, often high detail and smooth paint application. In a pursuit for super realism, the artist may lose sight of what creativity means, as well as artistic expression. The result is the same approach, but with ever more technical perfection. Common favored artistic pursuits are:
  • Expressing every fur on an animal, such as dogs, cats, squirrels, foxes or other farm animals. The viewer may admire the approach, saying, ‘you could almost stroke the fur!’
  • Sweeping landscape such as mountain peaks, canyons and valleys by the use of smooth paint layers.
  • Seascapes exhibiting sea spray, billowing clouds and rugged cliffs.
  • Large sweeping  with puffy clouds with smooth blues between.
  • Dramatic sunsets.skies
  • Intricate studies of still life, such as fruit and flowers that have an illustrated feel
  • Draughtsman-like rendition of buildings.
  • A pursuit of photographic realism.
Such areas of exploration are great for the artist but pose the risk of taking over the artist portfolio. The artist may be reluctant to try a different technique or subject matter in a fear of failure. The sense of satisfaction gets too closely associated with this one subject area and approach. The artist could wind up being labeled as ‘the one who is really good at painting bricks on houses, or pink clouds on sunsets.’ As will be seen, great tenacity in painting is not the same as creative art.

Tips for Artistic Growth

Malevich's Black Square (left) Kandinsky's On White II (right)
Few experiences can inject a creative breath of fresh air as visiting a city art gallery. National and international artists with diverse approaches will cause the viewer to ask questions about his/her current approach. Expressionism, abstract art, modernism and conceptual art will certainly bring an emotional response, whether intense dislike, bewilderment, disconcertion or similar. 

A good shakeup, I believe, is good for the artist, as experiencing the boundaries of artistic expression cannot fail to create a broader view. Without realizing, the artist will view their current work with a different perspective.

To this end, the mages shown are:
Credits: Edvard Munch: The Scream (1893) National Gallery, Oslo
Wassily Kandinsky: On White II (1923) Gallery: Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France
Marc Chagall: I and the Village (1911) Museum of Modern Art, New York
Malevich: Black Square (1915) Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Learning to Take Risks in Art

Gleaning art books is another way of finding new approaches to art. Beholding Abstract Expressionism, Cubism, Bauhaus, Vorticism, Primitive Art, Futurism, Surrealism, Dadaism, Op Art, Pop Art, Minimalism and art installations will make the domestic artist ask himself, why can’t I get away with this? Agonizing over every strand of canine fur or brick on a building will suddenly seem less vital.

Overview of Art Techniques in Art

Summit by Rachel Shirley
Trying out different oil painting techniques is another way of broadening the creative reach. Impasto, scumbling, pointillism, etching, dripping, scratching, smudging and dabbing can be explored as well as glazing and detail. Combining several techniques in one oil painting will bring out contrasting elements. Trying out different mediums to the norm could result in unexpected effects. In my painting, Summit, I heightened color contrasts between sunlight and shadow to create a shimmering effect.

Odd Subject Matter for Art

Experimenting with subject matter not accustomed to is an exciting way of pushing out the boundaries. A habitual landscape artist could benefit from trying out a still life for a change. A habitual still life artist could combine subject matter not normally seen together, such as a glass tankard next to a Mickey Mouse clock. Try odd settings or viewpoints. Placing objects not normally seen together could result in  a quirky still life.

Creative Ideas for Art

The artist feeling within a creative rut would benefit from visiting a city art gallery to see how the great artists have tackled their subject area. The first time visitor may come away thinking, how can they get away with this? Maybe I can try something like that. The artist cannot help but take a fresh view on their usual practice. Trying out different art techniques and subject matter not used to are other ways of pushing out the creative boundaries.

Great City Art Galleries to Visit

The following city art galleries are recommended for the artist who may find the art of the village hall too insular. Many are not listed here.

UK Art Galleries: The Tate, the Tate Modern, Tate Britain; National Portrait Gallery; the Royal Academy of Arts; Saatchi Gallery (all in London) or the Walker Gallery or the Tate Liverpool; Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, the Riverside Museum, Glasgow
US Art Galleries: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington; Art institute of Chicago; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Philadelphia Museum of Modern Art; National Portrait Museum, Washington, Hirshhorn Museum, Washington
European Art Galleries: The Louvre in Paris; Van Gough Museum, Amsterdam; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; Museu Picasso, Barcelona; Guggenheim, Bilbao; Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome;  Istanbul Modern, Istanbul; The State Hermitage, St Petersburg
Asia & Oceania Art Galleries: National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo; the National Art Centre, Tokyo; National Art Museum of China, Beijing; Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney; National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
South America Galleries: Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Sao Paulo

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