Over the years I have taken in a lot of input from art teachers, art shows, art reproductions, the opinions of my buyers and custom art clients, etc. And feedback can be good, up to a point…Listening and applying feedback from critiques and copying master art works has been a good way to evaluate old habits and see weaknesses that need to be improved. On the other hand, in the case of copying masters, such as Johannes Vermeer, Mary Cassatt, or Claude Monet, I have learned new techniques such as matching color or painting in glazes to get realism in my artwork. I have also learned what painting techniques I don’t enjoy, such as painting very tight and in thin layers as Vermeer did in his paintings. All of these things have been serving me well. In particular, especially getting feedback from buyers and clients, helps me to understand what things they are likely to buy.
However, after a while, I have noticed that my own vision for what I want to express in my art work seems difficult to grasp. All of these other “voices” can sometimes make it difficult to hear my own artistic voice. For example, I’ve started and stopped a poetry illustration series that I think would demonstrate a search for finding that voice for the last year or so. I think I need some way to break out of this confusion in order to define what it is I really have to say about my art work on a personal level. So today I read an article from the website, Art Bistro.com, which lists several suggestions about how to “Find Your Artistic Voice.” A few items that resonated with me included the following: 1.) Push Yourself out of your artistic comfort zone, with regard to subject matter, 2.) Take the plunge and try working on something different, and find ways to cope with the ensuing anxiety, 3.) Writing about Your Intentions for your artwork, and 4.) Remembering what subjects inspired you originally. Source: 10 Tips to Find Your Artistic Voice, 1/06/2011, http://www.finearttips.com. This article was previously published on ArtBistro.Monster.com.
After reading this, I am challenged to pick up my pencils and brushes again to try and start making some headway on the poetry illustration series I started about a year ago. I want to make work that tells a story, not just something that I hope will sell or that imitate another artist’s style that I admire. As to how I am going to break through my procrastination about finishing this work, I think I will need to set some sort of deadline and work schedule to “just do it” as the popular slogan from Nike states. Here is a poem excerpt by Maya Angelou, from her poem, And Still I Rise, that inspired my drawing, And Still I Rise, about rising above difficulties, particularly the heritage of American slavery and racism. Here are a few lines from her poem that speak to these themes:
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Source: Poetry Foundation,//www.poetryfoundation.org.