Stepping into 2016, one of the ideas for the new year was the goal of cultivating more curiosity. I am someone who, once I decide to start a project I put my head down and just go, go, go. And often, after several weeks of this, I start to feel…blah. You know, all work and no play…even when the work is making art, I find that I need regular infusions of new things to wake me up. One of the ways that I’ve been trying to weave new experiences into my days is to cultivate more curiosity, to encourage curiosity when it pops into my mind. If I have the thought “I wonder what is down that street?” or “what would happen if…?” I am making an effort to turn down the street, or try the new thing. Does it seem silly that I have to make an effort to be curious? No doubt, this comes naturally to many of you, an unstoppable force, but I can be so practical and habit-driven sometimes that I forget to allow time and space for curiosity. Curiosity can start to feel indulgent with the demands of daily life. So I remind myself.
What does this have to do with art? I find that curiosity is a habit of mind…if I don’t exercise it outside of the studio, it becomes more difficult to exercise it inside the studio. It’s like trying to run a marathon without training for it. Also, cultivating curiosity outside of the studio is a very safe, gentle form of risk-taking, and for those of us who are risk-averse (yours truly) it’s like yoga for our minds… stretching, so that we can be more limber and willing to take risks in the studio.
I also find that new things tickle my brain in a way that encourages new ideas. Landscape is my painting subject, and putting myself in new environments is part of my art practice. My Periphery Project has shown me parts of the Bay Area I had never seen, and triggered so many new ideas in my work. A limber, open mind is fertile ground for new ideas. So, practicing curiosity is a way to invite new ideas.
One of my favorite ways to practice curiosity is taking workshops. I’m currently taking a 16-week online workshop, and it makes me think in totally new ways.
Come take a workshop with me!
I’m teaching two workshops soon, and I believe there is still room in both to sign up. The first is my “Precision, Layering and Clarity” workshop at Wax Works West, April 30-May 2. This workshop is also available November 19-21. Both classes are currently open for registration.
The second workshop is the 5-day in-depth “Transparent Layering and Mixed Media Techniques” at Idyllwild Arts Academy, June 27 – July 1. Idyllwild is currently offering an early pay discount of 5% if you sign up by April 15. But if you mention that you learned about the workshop through me, they’ll bump that discount up to 10%! They also offer an ongoing bring-a-friend discount of $50 if you register with a friend. Thank you, Idyllwild Arts!