In fitness training, if you repeatedly work the same muscle group each day, you can develop fatigue – and even worse – injury! This is why fitness trainers recommend using split days. By giving your major muscle groups a rest, you can allow them to rebuild – which makes you stronger and healthier.
I believe it works the same way with artists. If we do the same thing each and every day, we can get burnt out over a period of time. It’s important to switch things up to keep your art skills fresh!
I can’t speak for others, but I can certainly share what’s worked for me. I love drawing comics and illustrations with a comic book aesthetic. It’s fun but after a while, I can feel myself getting a little bored. When that feeling comes on, I switch to digital painting.
And what do I paint? Landscapes! These paintings are in the vein of what you might see in Looney Tunes cartoons.
With my comics work, I lean heavily into inking, penciling etc. using my favorite drawing brushes. With my painting work, though, I use the almighty (and vastly underrated) lasso tools. Not only do I switch subject matter, I switch my drawing tools entirely.
Painting with the lasso tools came to me by way of a constraint: It just so happened that I was sitting in front of a computer with Photoshop without a drawing tablet to play with. I had some time to kill, so I gave myself the challenge of creating a piece using only Photoshop and a mouse. It wasn’t easy, but bit by bit I discovered new techniques, almost all of which I still use today.
The artist’s cross-training guidelines that I recommend to kill art block are:
- Switch up your subject matter
- Switch up your tools
- Switch up BOTH your tools AND your subject matter
- Give yourself constraints or limitations to really push yourself out of your comfort zone
How do you cross-train in your art practice? Let us know in the comments below.