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Weekly Blog on creativity and what it takes to be an artist by David Limrite (artist, teacher, mentor & coach)

LIMITING IS NOT LIMITING

David Limrite-Artist, Coach, Mentor, Teacher

I know this concept may sound crazy to some of you and I know that a great many of you will get it right away.

I have come to realize that by limiting my choices, I actually expand my creative freedom.

Yes. I know! But limitations can expand your creativity and your focus. Really. It's true. And this applies to to almost everything an artist does or uses.

Think about what focusing on just one subject to draw or paint for awhile can do for you. This idea of painting just one thing over and over again might sound boring to some of you but consider the benefits of painting, let's say, 100 paintings of an apple. What? That's crazy, David! Well, instead of tedious and boring, I think about freedom, possibilities and variety. That sounds better, doesn't it?

First of all, by the time you get to painting #22, let's face it, you most likely will be getting quite tired of painting an apple. However, by the time you get to painting #25, you are probably going to start trying to think of other more interesting ways that you can depict an apple. This is where your creativity starts to kick in gear. You may start thinking about painting a purple apple or a black apple or white apple. Interesting… By the time you get to painting #38, you may be thinking about painting a 6' apple or a 1" apple. Exciting!! By painting #50 you may be on to a series of apple core paintings or expressionistic paintings or even abstract apple paintings.

Do you see where I am going with this? The idea is that you have to exhaust your initial conservative ideas before you can get to the really juicy stuff. Focusing on one thing is a way to get you there. Chances are that you may not get to the really good stuff by floating from subject to subject every couple of paintings.

The point is, focusing on one subject for awhile can actually expand your willingness to explore, investigate and experiment.

The same thing can be said for limiting your color palette. I am currently exploring this idea in my new paintings for my upcoming exhibit. I am working exclusively with a palette of only 4 colors: black, brown, paynes gray and white. I get my warms from the brown (raw umber) and my cools from the paynes gray. After working with this limited palette for 6 months or so I have discovered a whole range of colors and their variations, as well as a huge range of grays that are incredibly beautiful. I have learned how to take just a few colors and push them to their absolute limit. Plus, I do not have to think about what colors I want to use on my next painting. I can just paint! It is also very easy to reproduce colors from one day to the next.

Less technical stuff and more creative stuff.

It truly is exhilarating and I am a much happier, productive and creative artist.

Now, I am not saying that you should create 100 paintings of an apple, nor am I saying that you should paint with only 4 colors. I am merely suggesting that you may want to consider exploring some limitationswith the possibility that by doing so, it may help you expand your creativity. I have always worked with the same subject matter for long stretches of time. While I am in the process of doing so I find myself frequently saying, "OK, now on this next painting I am going to try…". I love it and I think you will too.

Think about exploring one medium for awhile to really get to know it, understand it and, perhaps, even master it. Doing this will also make you want to further explore your chosen medium to really see what it can create for you. I have been working mainly with charcoal and acrylic for years now and it still feels as if I have only begun to scratch the surface of what these mediums can do. Working with these two mediums has prompted me to want to explore what happens when I add in oil paintsticks, spray paint and collage. And I am doing so!

Consider limiting the number and kind of brushes that you use to just the ones you love. I have maybe 50 to 60 brushes and only use about a dozen of my favorites. I could literally get rid of the other 40 brushes and not miss them at all. Less to think about and more time for creating.

I know that limiting might seem too limiting at first but I also know that if you allow yourself to limit it can actually expand your creativity.

I would love to hear about your experiences with limiting or, if you have found this idea interesting to you, what might you try to limit and what results you hope to have.

Best,

David