I’ve spent the last couple years trying to find my artistic voice. Ultimately, this is a lifelong journey – an artist finds her voice, people recognize her work without having to read a sign or look for a signature on a piece and then, somewhere down the line, just like happens when people grow from childhood into our teens, the voice alters. If she’s lucky, elements of the “known” voice remain and people still recognize her art as Her. Or in this case, Me.
Finding one’s voice is tricky. It’s not like looking for Easter eggs behind the shrubs and among the high grass. It’s not even like looking for your keys when you just know you put them right here. The eggs have color working in their favor and keys always seem to turn up, even if in the most unlikely place. The artistic voice is illusive. The more you search, the quieter the voice becomes.
And that is downright frustrating.
If you were to look through my gallery (click the link in the menu), you would likely say, yeah, she’s right, her work is all over the place. There’s no unifying element of design or color or theme (the crosses were part of the voice search – a start but ultimately just a theme, not my voice). On one hand, I’m okay with this disparate body of work. I’m still new to my artistic career and I’ve only earned a small chunk of the 10,000 hours needed to become an “expert”. I’m also okay with always learning. In fact, I think “expert” is like “perfect” – a ridiculous notion, both of them. A little humility and imperfection is better for the soul.
But on the other hand, I’m an impatient woman. I want what I want and I want it NOW. The universe laughed at me for that. Loudly.
So, I researched and read and asked other artists how one finds their voice. And this is what they said:
Narrow the focus. Limit the technique and the size and the color and whatever else it takes to have as close to a singular focus for your work as is humanly possible.
This too was difficult. I have a series of sketches, all abstract, odd shapes. Doodles, really, but fun shapes for my art. I rebel against square, don’t forget. I planned to take those sketches – clouds, I thought – and create my next series. Within the outer boundary line of each sketch, I drew a circle, a spiral, three stripes, and one other shape. I thought, “This! This is my narrow focus!” And then I created a piece with all those elements and it was a crashing disaster. It did not work. At all. Horrible composition when I took it off the page and into the studio. A lesson from the genius that is my muse. I paid attention and learned, which is really the best outcome when something for which you had high hopes goes sideways.
Back to the drawing board I went (the one in my head). I muddled and pondered and grimaced and grouched and begged the spirit that sends me ideas to help me figure out just what the heck those sketches were, just how the heck I was supposed to narrow them down into something that might just turn out to be my voice.
The artistic spirit who hangs around me stepped up (it took a few days…the universe is always trying to teach me patience). I was reading a book on my lunch hour. I don’t know what the passage said. I don’t know what triggered the revelation, but suddenly, exactly like the proverbial spark of inspiration, I realized I was not drawing clouds in those little sketches. I was drawing FEELINGS!!!
A light went on. And I knew how to proceed.
The sketch became “Inflamed”, a feeling of passion, of ire, of pain, of pleasure. The tight, narrow focus to my work now is the feeling each sketch evokes.
Finding my voice might be closer than I think. It’s certainly closer today than it was a month ago.
Constructive criticism and comments are always welcome. Please share your thoughts!
Inflamed (link to poem)
The original sketch, for comparison
There’s no poem for this piece. To me, the piece IS the poem because feelings are always poetry to me.
Next up: I’m working on the design for the next feeling in my sketch pile, but first, I have a stepson graduating from college. He needs a gift.