An artist's work can get a little stale after working in the studio for many years.

"You kind of get caught up in the commercial end of making art that will sell, and you lose the sense of freedom and creativity that comes with being an artist," said Sue Rau, of Marmora, Cape May County. To help get the creative juices flowing again and to break out of their comfort zones, a group of local, longtime artists, including Rau, have formed an informal group called Out of the Box.

The Out of the Box crew, which includes anywhere from five to 10 artists, gather one morning per month, the last Wednesday of each month, at artist Linda Gazsi's studio in Linwood to discuss and explore out-of-the-box approaches to creating art.

One activity they've tried is putting random words into a hat, such as "movement," "water" and "popcorn art," and then each pulling a word from the hat and interpreting it through their artwork. Another activity was to each write a description of a scene on a piece of paper, then swap papers with another artist in the group, who painted or drew it out the way they interpreted it.

"It's about breaking out of the box and doing something different, something unique," Rau said. "By the end of each meeting, you get into this feeling of being really creative and inventive. It inspires you to push yourself a little further."

Gazsi said the reason they meet in the morning is so that if someone gets really inspired they can head home and spend the rest of the day running off that creative energy.

She said the activities she has done with the group have opened her eyes to new ways of viewing things and have caused her to push her imagination a little further.

"Part of being inspired, is being challenged," Gazsi said.

Somers Point artist Kathy Arleth, owner of the Great Bay Art Gallery on Bay Avenue in Somers Point and a member of Out of the Box, said the group is also a good way to connect with other artists in the community.

"Sometimes it's just nice to be in the company of a bunch of like-minded people who share the same passion," Arleth said.

Contact Elisa Lala:

609-463-6713

If you go

Out of the Box meets the last Wednesday of each month. The group will not meet January, but will resume in February.

What: Out of the Box artists meet up

When: 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27

Where: The Gazsi Studio, 505 Hamilton Ave., Suite 109, Linwood

Call 609-653-7006