I was reading my Art & Fear book yesterday, as I so often do when I feel a little stuck or stale and read about something that had just happened to me:
The dilemma every artist confronts, again and again, is when to stick with familiar tools and materials, and when to reach out and embrace those that offer new possibilities. And on the average, the younger artist tends to experiment with large and varied range of tools and materials, while the veteran artist tends to employ a small and specific set. (p. 59)
Two things hit me. I had just changed my materials. Still glass, but a brand made by a different manufacturers (Bullseye and Gaffer) which meant different colors, different types of colors (lots of translucents, veiled cane and richer color), and a different feel to how it melts which meant I would work differently.
I had no idea what to make so I set out just testing one color next to the other. Making the disks that I so love and are so popular. I was excited again, even though I knew I wasn’t creating masterpieces. Color called me like it hasn’t in a long time.
The second thing I realized is that I haven’t been using many tools. Lord knows that doesn’t mean I don’t have them! But I’ve been using a flat marver or two, parallel mashers, tweezers a little rake and scissors. I was feeling so, um, earthy. I don’t know how to explain it. Like when a gardener digs in the dirt. More hands on. Free. it felt good.
Sometimes, changing materials or tools, or eliminating them altogether can push one into a new direction.