7 Ways to Avoid Routine & Monotony in Your Art

If you’re to keep yourself interested in and stimulated by your painting, how do you combat routine and monotony? How do you get from blank canvas to “the interesting and challenging bit” without being bored?

1. Work Faster
Get through the initial blocking in of colour in as little time as possible. Use a bigger brush, paint faster. Focus on what you’re doing but also think about what you’ll be doing next.

Ink drawing of a tree by artist Marion Boddy-Evans
Working with a measure of uncertainty — use a brush and water to ‘paint’ the subject on a sheet of watercolour paper, then drop colour into it when it’s still wet. In this instance I was using acrylic ink, dripping in a little directly from the bottle dropper.
2. Vary Your Approach
Don’t always paint the same size, on the same surface, or with the same medium. Add texture, use a brush that leaves strong marks.

3. Paint in Series
Investigate a subject in depth, don’t only do the one impression of a scene, but look to vary the lighting, the viewpoint, the style and the focus.

4. Add a Colour
If you fear monotony, then introduce a small segment of unusual colour to the painting. This will give the art work a bit of omph, and may well highlight where, in the rest of the painting, you are loosing interest.

5. Change Your Hand
Hold your brush in your other hand (the “wrong” hand). It will get you thinking more about the physical process of painting (because it doesn’t come so automatically), and free up that part of the mind which is worrying about aesthetics. Step back after a while and consider the painting from a distance, some of it will feel new and fresh for the simple reason that you mind has been concentrating on other things.

6. Swap Subjects
Whatever your ‘usual’ subject is — still life, landscape, wildlife — there’s no reason you have to paint only this. It is feasible to be successful painting more than one subject, whether you’re swapping between them or evolving from one to another. (As an example, take a look at the paintings of South African artist Peter Pharoah, who paints wildlife, abstracts, and figures.) If what you’re doing is feeling stale to you, the artist, what do you think the audience is going to feel?

7. Consider the Alternatives
Remember, you could have become a [insert: whatever you regard as the most dull of careers]. Now, doesn’t painting seem so much more exciting and fulfilling?

5 Replies to “7 Ways to Avoid Routine & Monotony in Your Art”

    1. True artists always question themselves and what they’re doing. I think it’s part of that “the more you know the more you realize how little you know” thing. Take joy in what you’ve achieved, and in what you will still discover.

  1. Thank you. I just love the idea of drawing the ‘wet’ part, then dropping in paint, or ink. I cannot wait to try it. Love, just love your ideas on creativity. Living in a country with so many problems you truly uplift us all.

Leave a Reply