"We promise according to our hopes, and perform according to our fears."
François de La Rouchefoucauld

Change One Thing
© 2001 Nita Leland
First, choose one subject or concept for your painting. Think about how you usually paint such a subject. But before you begin, change one thing. Here are some suggestions:
  • If you normally work horizontally, switch to the vertical.
  • If you usually work on rectangles, use an oval, circle or diamond.
  • If you usually paint on dry paper, paint wet-into-wet.
  • If you usually make hard edges, use soft edges.
  • If you usually paint small, paint large, or vice versa.
Here are some other ideas:
  • Change your horizon to extremely high or low.
  • Paint high key (light and bright) or low key (dark and moody) instead of full contrast.
  • Emphasize calligraphic line instead of shape.
  • Emphasize color instead of value.
  • Emphasize pattern instead of shape.
  • Use repetition of one element, varying it with each repeat.
  • Limit yourself to one big brush instead of your usual assortment.
  • Change your usual subject by trading source material with someone else in class.
  • Instead of painting what you see in the subject, paint what you feel about it.
  • Make an abstraction emphasizing shapes or colors instead of subject.
  • Make a simplified, stylized picture instead of a realistic one with details.
  • Paint upside down, both your source material and your support.
  • Paint without drawing.
  • Draw with your brush instead of a pencil.
  • Paint with your opposite hand holding your brush.
  • Paint with a brush in each hand.
Do several paintings of the same subject, changing one thing each time at the start of the picture. Let each change suggest other changes, either in that or another picture. Enjoy the process and don't worry about finishing a picture.

Changing your environment can make a big difference, too. Move your drawing table to a different place in the room. Bring in a vase of fresh flowers. Or, simply walk away from your work for awhile.

Janean Thompson writes: "I often take a mental break by simply walking away from a project. I fix a cup of tea and sip it while sitting on a lawn chair, under a big tree next to my studio. It is a commune with nature, a moment of quiet relaxation and a slate cleaning for the clutter in my mind. When I go back to work, it is with renewed clarity."

See The New Creative Artist and New Creative Collage Techniques for a great variety of projects and ideas for change.

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