I know well what it feels like when work plateaus. The fact is, I’ve just come through one of those periods. It’s unsettling to be at the end of something and have no idea what comes next. It’s even harder to find just what that next thing is. However, when the work holds no more surprises and has become predictable, change is the only way to infuse it with new excitement.
This begins a period of experimentation, which is a transitional stage that can be unnerving. It can also be a period filled with failure. Yet every time I go through this, I know in my gut there’s no other way to discovery except to work through the process. It’s important to keep showing up to the studio. It’s also a good time to go to the galleries and read art magazines. This is a time to make myself available to whatever is out there to inspire me.
This is why I love collaging so much. At a time when my painting has plateaued, working new collages allows the intuitive side of my brain to take over. There’s a letting go that happens when I allow myself to play in another medium. It has a freeing effect from the intensity of painting. I’ll eventually edit out the collages that don’t work for me from those that I’ll want to paint.
So when my work plateaus, instead of looking at it as the end of something, I look at it as the beginning of a growth period. Making art involves solving problems. The bigger the problem to solve, the greater scope it gives the art. To be good at anything takes endless hours of work and the willingness to risk change.