And now then it’s time to get to the fine line we actually walk as artists working in this field. Because know it or not, we each start a new one to walk with each new piece, and how well we tiptoe along depends on a few factors that help us keep our balance. So let’s get to tippy–toeing!…
In this sense, each piece will ask us to unlearn what we've learned in order to introduce a new version of reality. Indeed, when we get stuck, or when we're fighting a piece unduly, that usually means a new version of reality is trying to introduce itself, only we aren't listening. There's a big difference between "muscling through it" and simply railroading a piece. Taking a break and paying attention to what the piece is trying to tell us—to let it guide us—is usually the far better strategy, not just for the piece itself, but also for our long–term development. Indeed, when we learn to take a step back and let each piece become our guide into a bigger reality—when we turn the creation of our portfolio into a kind of broader exploration—do we actually take a step forward into amplified improvement and intensified curiosity.
And curiosity is essential for realism. In fact, we can think of equine realism itself as a kind of materialization of our shared curiosity as each of us explore what it means to be "equine." Indeed, it's our inquisitiveness that leads us down the roads we take with our aims or our media, and it's our curiosity that gets fed when we cram our heads full of new information. It's our questioning that compels us to take on more ambitious work, and it's our searching that leads us to adopt the methods and compositions we do. Most of all, it's our investigations that ask us to dump those methods, media, or mentalities that hold us back in lieu of new ones that propel us forward. In contrast, we stagnant when we lose our curiosity. We just go through the motions, don't we? We fall back on our habits and conventions, and simply create work on "cruise control," often relying on our fame and familiarity to carry these works. As a result, such pieces become as routine as our sensibilities so it should come as no surprise when they get lost in the din of work out there, or even within or own portfolio. Without curiosity, our reality becomes lackluster and uninspired, and it shows in our work. So critical it is, in fact, that it defines the difference between those who'll plateau and coast from those who'll forge steadily forwards towards greater heights of achievement. If we wish to grow and evolve then, and to create a portfolio of truly standout work, staying curious is by far our best tactic.
- Why do I choose to create within realism? Has this motivation evolved as I developed? How do I see it evolving in the future?
- What aspects are so important to me that they’re nonnegotiable elements even in my pursuit of more realism?
- Can I see where I went wrong and also where I was right in my previous work? How can I avoid the mistakes while still perpetuating the desirable elements?
- What’s my confidence level with my art? In what areas am I more confident, and in which am I more unsure?
- Do I believe in my work? Can I defend it?
- Do I find myself bouncing between different people’s opinions about my work without one of my own?
- What will be the measure by which I gauge the achievement of my goal? Is it an objective measure?
- What are the favorite aspects about my work and process? Which are my least favorite, and perhaps seek to change?
- What new thing do I wish to accomplish with this piece? Why are those aspects new, and why haven’t I tried them before?
- Am I willing to have all my preconceptions and notions about reality challenged, and potentially proven wrong? Can I accept this without taking it personally? And even when it compromises the validity of my previous work?
- What do I plan to do when I realize my version of reality is flawed? Keep with the status quo or make big changes?
- What am I willing to do to improve? Am I willing to make sacrifices, such as spend money and energy for workshops or classes, or keep working at it relentlessly until it’s right, or take time from the studio for research? Do I have access to horses for life study, and am I willing to devote hours to such observations?
- What about this piece will ask me to engage pro–active education? What new aspect will it demand of me to get it right?
- Do I plan to visit shows, exhibitions, galleries, collections, and museums in order to study realistic works in person?
- How dedicated am I to my art? Am I content to achieve a certain level and then coast, or do I want to push my capabilities indefinitely?