"Santa Fe Leanings." Encaustic on Cradled Birch Panel, 18 x 18 inches. One of my recent encaustic abstractions.
I have always joked that I have creative ADHD. I paint wildlife in oil, but I also paint abstract encaustic paintings, and abstract oil paintings. I like to experiment with watercolor. I draw. I do like to work in a series, but I often have more than one series going on at any given time. Like a butterfly, I like to flit from one idea to another. (Sometimes even in the same day!) I never suffer from a shortage of ideas. A much bigger problem for me is being able to curate those ideas. Which ones are the most worthy of spending time on? Is it more important to make the work that is selling consistently, or should I focus on what brings the most joy and intellectual challenges? Friends have told me to paint what I want to paint. I do! I definitely do! But I don't always want to paint a rabbit, raven or roadrunner. Sometimes, I just want to paint - freeing myself completely from the representational world. I like to invent my own worlds sometimes. Sometimes, there is nothing I want more than to paint another jackrabbit. It varies, depending on the day.
I see value in staying with one subject matter and one medium. Mastery is best obtained when we focus in on a specific thing. I also believe that when we restrict ourselves and enforce boundaries, it is within those constraints that creativity really flourishes. This may seem counterintuitive, but there are so many decisions made throughout the course of one painting. When you can limit some of those decisions, you will do better work and the core idea can really evolve. Recognizing that, I also have found that when I allow myself creative detours with completely different work and even different mediums, I can return to my regular work (wildlife) with fresh eyes and enthusiasm. For me, the abstract work informs the representational work, and vice versa.
Working the way I do, I really have to spend a lot of time painting in order to complete full bodies of work in each genre. The time commitment is significant. Yet there is nothing more satisfying than being tired from work at the end of a long day in the studio. I need to paint - it is a balm for my soul and it helps me deal with the stresses of every day life in a crazy world. If I am unable to get into the studio for over a week, I start to suffer. I get cranky. I am saved by making art.
I often say to myself, "Karine, you need to just stay with this one thing, and abandon those other interests. Let go of encaustic. Let go of abstraction." But then I find myself thinking, "Gee, I'd really like to make jewelry and write a novel!" Crazy artist brain.
How about you? Do you allow yourself other creative outlets? What works best for you as an artist?