grooves and ruts
A groove is a creative track in which there is movement forward, energy, direction, an ease to progress. It's being in the creative zone.
A rut is the opposite--progress is impeded, you feel drained and bored. Sometimes forward momentum stops completely...all you can do is rock back and forth.
A groove is formed on a solid base, like rock. It holds up well when you're on it, and when it's time to get off, you just take a sideways step onto something new. A rut happens when the base is not so solid, like mud. Once you're stuck, it's hard to get out.
For me, working with multiple panels is a groove. I've been doing this since 2004 and it still feels fresh, flexible and full of potential. Ruts? Lately, I'm stuck on certain colors...earth colors (see mud analogy above!) I resist bright, saturate colors in my work, while at the same time I'm drawn to them everywhere else (in flowers. fabrics, other people's paintings, even grocery shelves.) Somehow earth colors have become a comfort zone for me. I think I'm good at working with them, but it's becoming automatic. Which ought to be a red (a bright red!) flag--shouldn't we question what starts to become routine?
I guess these thoughts helped to identify the problem, because so far today my palette has been brighter, with bits of intense orange, red and blue showing up here and there in my panels. But I've also been thinking about something my son Ben said when he was really little, like 5..."things change, but slowly, so you don't notice." There may not be a dramatic yank out of this particular rut, but I think I'm hopeful that I am gaining a little traction.