@sirensidyll wrote, "What motivates you to push the comfortable boundaries you're accustomed to and treading in the choppy waters of the unknown artistically?"
It got me thinking what DOES get me trying new things artistically?
My initial answer was a new color of a favorite material, and that's true nothing makes me happier than a fresh new color of watercolor or acrylic. I test it out and mix it with old standbys seeing what fresh new colors I can get, sometimes I mix up whole jars of the color to make perfect flat washes.
Other times it's a sketchbook in a size I haven't used in awhile. Like my old standby 3.5×5.5 inches(9x14cm) that I get every spring**. Or a new tool like those Pentel Pocket Brush Pens or the E+M lead clutch. Sometimes it's a blog post written by a friend or fresh discovery.
I realized I needed to dig a little deeper on this question, because the overwhelming first thing I do with all new materials? Search flickr's commons and find a friendly face and draw it. It's a great way to get to know a new material, find something you're comfortable with and draw it, it will tell you what that material can do.
The meat of the question was about stretching myself artistically and what triggers that stretch.
A relatively new phenomenon for me is drawing in coffee shops. I know that you all think I cut my teeth drawing in public, the truth is all through college I hated it, despised it. I enjoyed being with my classmates in class and talking to them but actively hated drawing in class. I always felt self concious about my skills, or lack of them. I thought that my friends my judge me based on my erasing lines and then redrawing them. I was not a sit out and about on campus drawing type of student, unless I knew that the spot was relatively secluded and I wouldn't be bothered- hence my many many drawings of the Stillwater River, drawn from the dock in the evenings during October, March and May*.
You might be wondering what was the catalyst for this change. It was to prove to myself I could do it. Force myself to see that no one really cared, and if they did they would look on in curiousity not judgement.
The truth is, that is exactly what I've found. No one judges me. Most people don't care and even fewer still look over my shoulder to see what I'm doing. Mostly children ask questions, "What 'cha doing? Are you an artist? I'm an artist too!"
Mostly the thing that stretches me artisticly is myself. I have something to prove to myself, and only myself. I can do it.
You can do it too.
** I'm working an online class around my method of working in a 3.5×5.5 inch journal, it's in process just like the fountain pen class and I'll get to it, you know soon. FP class is in the works- I've got several of the videos done, about 3/5 of the actual class written. I need to finishe the writting and get the layout ready for the PDF, shooting pictures, more videos and so much more. Being ill really knocked me for a loop- I'm a full month behind schedule!
*My many drawings of the Stillwater no longer exist, many were lost during moves, given to college friends. I do have a few prints I made of the location. I'm tempted now to go back and draw there again.