Something I've been meaning to do for a while is unplug and just focus on my art and myself for a whole week. I'll have my phone on and I'll check my email once a day, but no other internet at all, no instagram either. I have some goals of drawing more, reading more, writing some poetry and just doing some soul searching. I'll report back in a week to see how I feel....
A recent realization of mine: having a lot of time to work on a painting is not always a positive quality. In fact, I think it can cause a lack of spontaneity, boldness, freshness and strength in my final work. I know this is very subjective, which is why I'm speaking for myself. Having a quicker pace and leaving things a bit messy always provides me with more satisfaction for my final product.
I think this is also why I have such a difficult time when I'm working from photo references. It's so tempting to get lulled into all the detail and to begin making smaller, picky marks. Here's a list of words that I want to associate with my work: bold, large, strong, free, loose, thicker paint, life, large brushes, not labored and broad.
I wanted to share some recent insight I had about having different approaches to making art. I always catch myself wanting to have a clear, linear style way of painting, but the truth is that it's good to have various ways of working. For my pet portraits I work in a certain way, usually slower and in a few distinct layers. But I also love working completely alla prima and finishing a painting in one sitting.
This is also true for the way I use source material. Using my laptop and photos to paint pet portraits is super convenient, but you have to be careful because it can get flat really quickly and the colors can appear different. I mainly love working en plein air, but that has its own disadvantages; the light is always changing and it's a race against the clock sometimes. But the advantage to working outside or from life in general is clear in the final work.
Basically, there's no right way or wrong way or "cheating" or anything. It all becomes your own work when you put your signature on the piece. Learn to love the variety that painting provides. It's all your own as long as you create it!