Years ago, someone looked at my work and said "I can tell that you're experimenting".
As an "established" artist (or so I thought) I found that insulting.
But as Bob Dylan and my mother have both said: I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now.
These days if you tell me that I'm experimenting, I will thank you and heartily agree. The older I get, and the more I teach, the more I know that there is always more to know.
I think that teaching what is what really has really grown me as an artist. Watching all of the different ways that painters and newbies approach the canvas is huge! People do things in ways that I would never have thought - and often they yield great results. And watching them is what got me to embrace experimentation.
And really, art is about experimentation. If you're going to experiment with anything in life, art is a safe place to do it.
Above is a detail view from my latest experiment. It's a 28"x30" oil painting. I'm just having fun with it - pushing oil paint around in a smudgy manner. Just this simple act makes me feel good.
The act of making art can be really enjoyable, to say the least. But... the experimentation part can be scary. It's easy to fall into a rut - sometimes you know that you can paint something well, so you keep painting the same subject or in the same style. This is not exactly conducive to growth.
Sound familiar? Maybe it's not an artistic rut - maybe you stick to the tried and true foods, music, and routines. Once again, art mirrors life. This boils down to: do the same thing, get the same results.
Where are you "playing it safe" in your life? And where are you free to experiment? Do you experiment with art? With the flavors you cook with? With the colors you wear or decorate your space with?
I invite you to to experiment with something in your world. It doesn't have to be a big thing - you don't need to make grand, sweeping changes. Just shake things up a little bit, and see how it feels.
Let me know how it goes!