Artists often refer to a good painting day as being in "the zone". This place can be a nimble little Minx...eluding even the most talented and hardest working of artists. More on that in a bit. I recently took a workshop with Kenn Backhaus. Over a 4 day period he gave us a series of exercises which forced us to constantly explore and work in a different manner than we are used to. I run my workshops similarly, but it was enlightening to be a participant and be reminded what it is like to be out of your comfort zone.
For example, I used a completely different color palette. The change has introduced me to some new colors I really like, the best being Ivory Black. WOW! Although I do include black on my own palette, I had been remiss in using it and never used it to mix greens. Warm greens! Dark darks! I am healed!
Some other exercises that threw me in another direction were: - Painting 3 paintings, each while counting brushstrokes. First you paint as usual and count the strokes. Then you paint the same painting again but cut the brushstrokes in half, and last you do a third painting and cut the strokes in half yet again. - Painting with both canvas and photo reference upside down AND while using only a palette knife.
These 2 exercises really forced me to see shapes and not details. As mentioned, I am quite familiar with these methods but Kenn has a way of "re-framing" the obvious and getting you to see things in a different light.
Back to the notion of being in "the zone". I often lose my way a little when confronted with new and different painting methods, especially in a workshop setting. However, over the course of the 4 days I hit my stride and got over some hurdles. I am feeling confident and excited to get back in the studio.
So it seems that sometimes, we must get out of our comfort zone to get into "the zone".
Onward and upward.