It's not easy keeping your knives sharp as it were.  Skills need to be stretched and honed or they get rusty.  I've been lucky to have friends that push me artistically.  This year is going to be about story and backgrounds.  Fox & Boots got my toes wet.

But how do we maintain the creative spark?  Artists are their own worst enemy, often times snuffing the light out themselves.  

For me, aside from competitive friends, the answer lies in finding things that challenge me.  I'm in no way a great landscape artist, but my freelance gigs recently have been to do background paintings.  

What better way to continue learning than to just keep diving into backgrounds.  True artists never stop learning, and I am just beginning to understand how much or how little you need in a background to convey the right feelings.