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Balancing Confidence with Finding New Challenges in an Artistic Practice

I more or less know what I’m doing now when it comes to painting a landscape or a still life. My approach to geometric abstraction blended with impressionism has developed somewhat of a formula to it: I identify where I want to render and where I will abstract a scene, and I sketch out a plan before putting the brush to canvas. And while I enjoy the confidence I now feel as I step into my studio, I know that it’s equally important to continue to challenge myself as an artist in order to improve. Discomfort is where learning takes place.

So with this thought in mind, I wonder, how can I assign new challenges to myself in order to improve as an artist? I looked at the feedback that my AP Art students gave me on my artwork from 2022 to answer this question. A number of students mentioned wanting to see more portraits and figurative work, which is a place to start. Others mentioned adding more detail in general, which I could employ in all my artwork. My partner and I have noticed that I often call a painting ‘finished’ when it’s really probably about 90% finished.

While thinking about continuous challenges, I also started thinking about when an artist should establish a style that the public can rely on. Is this even a necessary goal? Personally, I am more motivated to try new approaches and subjects, even if it confuses my audience. So for the remainder of this year, while I will continue to find inspiration from nature for the bulk of my artistic content, I also want to use this post to commit to creating more portraits and figurative works, while adding details to my work to achieve 100% completed artworks.

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