Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Finding Your Artistic Voice

Know Thyself
Finding your artistic voice doesn't start with a beautiful color blend, or a fancy new texture you learned in a workshop. The foundation of what will become your artistic voice can only come from you, so take the time to reacquaint yourself with YOU. Who do you imagine yourself to be, and how is that different from who you are right now? What are your core values? What are your personal tastes, and which of those tastes have lasted over time? As artists, we become accustomed to being on our own and working independently, but this can become more of a comfort zone than a place where we go to grow. Dig deep, and think about the things that really make you come alive.
Fear Is The Mind Killer
We are surrounded by judgement: judgement from gallery owners, judgement from our artistic peers, and most painfully, self-judgement. Free your mind and heart of the judgement that we learn to acquire in life, and look at your work as if with the eyes of one whom has never seen color, or shape, or texture. Practice working without fear; the minute you recognize fear creeping in, stop and step away. Take the time to center yourself, and work past the fear before you begin creating again. Fear will never aid you in your search for your own voice, so work to dismantle it the second it appears.
Be Your Messenge
r As individuals, we all have something to say. Our opinions and beliefs are formed over time, and are a direct result of our personal experiences. Take those experiences, whether they are good or bad, and put them to use. Cultivate what it is that you want to communicate, and hone that into a distinct message. Don't base your message on your artistic strengths: you might be blocking the very thing that could launch you towards your own voice. Don't rely on the fact that you can draw beautiful hands, or that you have perfected a certain watercolor wash. These are only techniques that serve to create your message in a visual form, and can easily become a crutch if you are allowing fear to keep its hold over you and your artwork. Rather, place the importance on your message, and hone your skills to recreate that message accordingly.
Trust Your Vision
We all have artists that inspire us and that have helped form our perception or art, but when you seek to establish your personal voice, you must learn to let go of those manifestations of someone else's vision. It is time to create your own visual that speaks with your own voice. Take down any work you have hanging in your studio or workspace, even if it is yours. Indulge your mind's eye in what it wants to see, and let your imagination run wild. Practice putting that vision down onto paper, and keep refreshing your palette. Your vision must be as free as possible of any outside influences, so remove even the screensaver on your computer if it is visible from your workspace. Your mental palette must be completely clear to begin moving into a personal vision. Focus on your message, and allow your mind to fill in how that message is visually represented.
Practice Patience
Creating a personal voice in your artwork does not happen over night. It doesn't happen in a week. It might not happen in a month, or a year, or even ten years. A personal voice comes from years of experience, and after much work, and most especially, after acquiring the skills of brutal honesty, personal awareness, and trusting yourself. Be patient: you never know when you will strike upon the very thing, the lightbulb, that could lead you down your path of creating a personal vision and a personal voice. The lightbulb moment could be very simple: watching a young family in the park, or seeing an elderly person board a bus, or after reflecting on how the leaves move in the wind. Allow yourself to be vulnerable, open, and patient.