I like to reward myself for finishing difficult projects, and most often I gravitate toward something that I love but don't indulge in too often. Some examples would be art supplies, fabric, or other such materials with which I can experiment but that I have no particular purpose in mind. It might seem strange that I celebrate completing work with more work, but it's really more like play. It also helps refill the well to do these things, so that when I do tackle the next project for work I feel creatively rested, if that makes sense.
Kathy Uhrig, the proprietor of Strange Notions on Etsy.com, is one of my favorite sources for this type of thing; she puts together wonderful little tin kits and packs of trims that always provide me with hours of creative fun. In one of the kits I recently purchased from her I found this very interesting textile:
The image is a Picasso -- you can still see a fragment of the artist's signature down at the bottom right corner -- and the piece probably started out as a scarf. While it's thin the colors are still quite bright, and there are no major snags or stains on the piece, which make it perfect for repurposing into a quilted project.
I can honestly say that I've never worked with a Picasso; I've always thought of his art as pretty bizarre and somewhat alien. Still, something about this particular piece is very compelling. I like the colors and the strong lines, and the lady's face is both tranquil and mysterious. Making this into something else presents an interesting challenge for me.
It's not my usual thing, but sometimes it's good to get completely away from that. Creatively speaking, every time you step outside your comfort zone you open yourself up to new opportunities. You explore unknown territory, discover unfamiliar ranges within yourself and regularly encounter other, unexpected surprises. Sometimes this also means making mistakes and finding out something really new is not for you. I might work on this piece for weeks and hate it by the time I finish. The thing about this kind of creative playing is that it doesn't matter -- success is not the objective.
I'll post updates on the Picasso project as it progresses; I think it'll be a lot of fun to see what I can do with it. I'll also include any screw-ups that happen along the way and what I learn from them.
How do you challenge yourself creatively? Let us know in comments.