How often do you challenge yourself creatively? When was the last time you looked at something that you were creating and decided that you needed to up your game?
You see, this week I decided to play around with my Koi Watercolours (oh, how I love them). I wanted to experiment with more of the colours in the palate and have a go at creating another floral piece.
But this time, I decided I would concentrate on developing more detail and form in my flowers and leaves, and I’d try to do this through line work, not watercolour. I can’t say that I’m in love with the end result and I can’t say that I dislike it either, but it was definitely a challenge!
If I’m honest, I love the way a creative challenge feels in my brain. It seems as though all these untapped areas of my brain fire up when I think about doing some of my creative processes differently, and I love it. Overall, it’s improving my capabilities because nothing is lost (creatively speaking), it’s all about what I’m gaining. As I’m making decisions about new techniques I could possibly merge with my current skill set, I am ultimately growing as an artist.
So today I thought I’d share the love and show you 7 ways you can challenge yourself creatively.
1. Use a different colour of ink.
You would be aware that I have been using a lot of blue ink in my work of late, instead of the traditional black. In case you missed it, you can read all about my motivations for ink change here, but the more I use it, the more I’m preferencing blue ink over black. And this has been really unexpected!
The blue is not as harsh as black and it seems to compliment other colours really well and it has given a complete different look to my work. You could experiment with a blue too, or a sepia coloured pen or even a green, the choice is yours. So if you’re up for a challenge, try working in a different coloured ink.
2. Create shadows and depth with contrasting colour.
So I’m assuming (forgive me) that if you read my blog, you might be working in mediums similar to me. I’m also assuming you naturally create shadow and depth in your work, using graphite pencil or grey markers? Well, if you do, try using a contrasting colour instead. Let’s say you’ve just coloured a square shape in red pencil, and you’re ready to add some dimension through applying shadow, well, try using a green pencil (contrasting colour) to apply the shadow.
A contrasting colour (or complimenting colour) sits opposite the main colour you’re working in, on the colour wheel. So let’s say you’re working in orange, your contrasting colour would be blue, and so on. By using contrasting colours for shading, your work will take on a slightly different look.
This is a zoomed in image of a tile I once worked on. You can see how I’ve used green to apply some shading around the shapes coloured in orange and red. It’s not as intense as graphite or as precise as a grey marker, but it does generate good contrast.
I’d also suggest checking out the coloured artwork of Eni Oken as she shades in contrasting colours a lot, and it’s magnificent! Why not give it a go, try using colour to add the depth and shadow you need to your next piece.
3. Deliberately choose alternative colours.
By this I mean, go against your natural inclination for colour. For example, if you’re creating a floral piece, don’t colour the leaves green, go for something like pink and blue instead. Choose a colour that’s not naturally associated with what it is your colouring. Once you’ve settled on the colours you want to work in, begin playing around with blending different shades of them. This will cause you to look more deeply at the form of what it is you’re colouring, which in turn can be challenging to replicate, and this post is all about being challenged!
4. Find ways to add more detail.
If you’re working on a repetitive pattern design using circles or triangles (for example) explore different ways you can add more details to the shapes. Can you shade them and give them dimension? Can you add more patterns, ie; add patterns to patterns? Can you add more line decoration in the form of dots and dashes? Can you overlay a pattern to a solid block of colour?
One of my favourite things to do when I see work that blows me away, is to zoom in on it and really see what’s going on. Aim for that! Pack so much detail in to what you create that others can’t help themselves, they just have to zoom in and see what you’re doing.
5. Undertake a 100 day project.
If there is a skill that you want to learn or something you want to try to improve at, think about committing to a 100 day project.
In 2016, I did a 100 Day Lettering Project and it was one of the best things I ever did to challenge myself creatively. There are a zillion sorts of 100 day projects out there, just one search on Instagram gives you so many options to consider. Check out what I’m talking about in the video below.
If you commit to working on a skill every day and challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone, I guarantee you that by the end of 100 days, you will have a sense of achievement like you’ve never felt before, and you will have improved significantly at whatever you were concentrating on. It’s a big one, but the rewards are so worth it! I know you can do it!!
6. Use different mediums.
If you are someone who works predominantly in one sort of medium, try adding other mediums to what you’re creating. For example, if you work in coloured pencils, try preparing a background in pastels or watercolour to work on.
Yes, mixed media is a thing, explore it, hop online and have a look at what artists are doing in the mixed media community. Start including some acrylics in your work, or alcohol markers, the list of things to try is endless. Learning and exploring a new medium will fire up those creative brain neurones and you’ll be having fun at the same time.
7. Bring an element of realism into a component of your work.
This will be more challenging than some of the other ideas, and it will require some additional time to research and study your subject. If you’re drawing includes food or gemstones, leaves or flowers (for example), challenge yourself to bring one element of that drawing to life.
Study the subject and really look at the different components that you could accentuate and be more accurate with. If you’re doing a floral piece, maybe work on bringing the berries to life. Can you add more highlighting to one area of the berry? Zoom in on your reference photo, see how the colours blend with each other and try to replicate it. How is light hitting the berry? Is there more than one colour in the berry? Pay attention to the little things and see how you can bring more of them into your work.
Soooo there’s a few ideas to get that beautiful creative brain of yours firing. I can’t wait to see what you create. But wait…. I have more….
In next week’s blog post, I will be sharing my first Artist Interview for 2018. If you are looking for more inspiration on how to challenge yourself creatively, I’m telling you now, you do not want to miss this next post! Now is the time to subscribe to my blog if you haven’t already. Click here, scroll to the bottom of the page and there is a spot for you to subscribe to my blog via email. You’ll never miss a post, and better still, you can read the post at a time that suits you! It’s win-win situation!
Until next week, keep creating.