Unlocking Creativity

Hi Friends!

Today I'd love to talk about a major creative breakthrough I had this year and what I learned from going through it. I love sharing my work with all of you and am so grateful for your attention and support. As you know, though, what you see on my social media channels are just the final products, which can make things look simpler than they are. There is a whole process of inspiration, brainstorming, trial, and error that goes into producing each piece. Some are created quickly in a rush of inspiration and others present unexpected problems for me to solve. Some turn out less interesting than I'd envisioned and some turn out completely different than I'd planned but in an awesome new way. In short; my painting process is always shifting but I love the challenges it presents.

Challenging myself is crucial to my artistic process; if I feel myself getting too comfortable with a certain subject or technique, that's a red flag for me that it's time to switch things up. In this instance, I was thinking about how I'd been doing landscapes my whole life. I love painting landscapes and they are still one of my greatest sources of inspiration, but I felt like I'd hit a plateau. I could paint landscapes almost without thinking and realized it was time for a new challenge to engage my mind fully in the work again. I felt like I owed it to my followers: if I'm creating from a mental space of routine instead of passion, it will show up in my work, and so it's my job to try something new and keep the fire of inspiration going before my work ever gets to that place of routine.  Landscapes would always be there when I was ready to return to them; I was ready for something new. The question was, what would it be? I pondered over this for quite some time.

The first thing I realized was that I was overworked. I'd been working so hard every single day to create more content that I wasn't giving myself any time to simply live life and take in new inspiration. In short, I needed to fill up my creative tank with gas again. I'd been talking about feeling overworked for a while with my wife Andrea, and we decided to take our work on the road to switch up our routine for a while. This was in late 2019 and we ended up spending six weeks in Florence, Italy. The plan was simply to slow our work pace a little and to take in some new culture and art. Little did I know how deeply this experience would impact me and the whole way I viewed the world.

The first thing that struck me about Italy was the architecture. I realized that all the buildings there have shapes, patterns, and movement. It opened my eyes to just how rigid and structured our public spaces are in America; everything here just looks like boxes compared to the fluid and vibrant design in Italy. This is something I'd never even considered until I saw the contrast between the two. That alone got me questioning what else there was out there that I'd taken for granted. I almost can't explain it, but the patterns and movement of my surroundings gave me the inspiration I'd been looking for.

Feliks in Italy


It was slow-going at first, but my paintings soon took on a totally different character as I incorporated new shapes and experiments with abstraction. I stayed true to my roots by making sure every painting was overflowing with color, but these new shapes and patterns gave me totally new ways to experiment with those color interactions. If you look at my Instagram feed around this time, you can observe a pretty dramatic break with my old style as I forced myself into totally new territory. You can also see it develop as my experiments gave me more confidence in the new style. I was thrilled to find a new lane to explore.

Feliks K new paintings

As an online creator, there's a very strong temptation to stick with what works. I make my living off of social media, so it's incredibly tempting to keep creating the kinds of paintings that made me well known or that get the most likes. While this may be satisfying in the short term, I really believe that it's worth the risk to push myself to try something new that may or may not be received as well as my old stuff. From the beginning, I would always tell Andrea, "It's not about the numbers. If they want to follow me and my art journey they will, and if not, they won't." Does that mean I don't care what people think? Of course I care! I believe every artist secretly cares what people think about their art in some way or another. I care about my community and giving them things that they'll enjoy and will inspire them to make their own work. It can be scary to try a new style and wonder how people will receive it, but I realized that in order to grow I need to not be afraid to be myself and share what I’ve been working on. I definitely had my doubts as I branched into this new style, but much stronger than my doubts was my belief in the importance of being true to yourself as an artist.

We also spent some time in France, where we visited a museum displaying some of Picasso's art. The work included everything from his creations as a young man up to the works he created shortly before dying. In the beginning he was creating pieces that were so realistic! By his old age, however, his art looked more and more childish and playful; the art we think of when we think of Picasso and the style that became recognizable as his and his alone. After that museum trip, I realized that the best artists are always experimenting and remaining in one style is not necessary. The art can and should change because good art is a reflection of the artist, and we are always changing and growing as people too. I really took that lesson to heart and it made me so much more confident as I tried wild new directions in my work.


 Picasso Painting of a Lover in a Beret 




Picasso's work as we know him 
Picasso's early works


I am so glad I stayed true to myself and allowed myself room to experiment. I was nervous at first that people might not understand or be upset that I was changing my style and trying something new. It turns out those fears were unfounded; you all were so supportive of the new work and I've loved reading your comments. I am thankful that my audiences have been so understanding and actually enjoyed seeing something new from me.  As I said, I'm going to do what inspires me no matter what, but I still do deeply care about what my community has to say and am always listening.

Abstract Painting by Feliks K


As for landscapes, I still paint them, but now it's only when I feel truly inspired to do so, versus out of a sense of obligation to generate content. I think this has helped me create much better work. I know there are probably some of you artists out there who have similar questions like I did about the possibility of working in more than one style at once. Sometimes it can feel like you need to stick to your lane or develop one signature style that people recognize you for. That's totally not the case! I am living proof that you can have success going after whatever inspires you, even if that means you paint two works that look nothing alike. The variety and challenge will not only keep you interested, but will teach you new techniques and ways of looking at the world. I always encourage people to experiment because that’s where true creativity lies.

What are you thinking of experimenting with next? Is there some new direction in art that you've always wanted to try? What do you think was stopping you from going for it? Let me know in the comments below and tag me in your new works; I can't wait to see what you unlock in your experiments!

Keep creating,

Feliks K.