Thursday, April 12, 2007

In Search of Artist Voice

So, I’ve completed a LOT of work. I’ve “dabbled” and “experimented” with lots of techniques and modalities, from pure painting to pure paper collage to pure fabric quilts and all combinations of these. I’ve done representational pieces, abstract, expressionist, folk, mandalas. I’ve worked large and small. I’ve used personal symbols – hearts, houses, flowers; I’ve done landscape, figural … I’ve “copied” Sonji Hunt, Joanne Casey, Debbie, Jamie Fingel, Melody Johnson, Lesley Riley, Traci Bautista, Claudine Hellmuth … I’ve worked on canvas, cloth, paper, books. I’ve studied thousands of pictures in magazines, books, online. I’ve done some original work, well original in some sense even though I was learning a technique.

The question remains – where is my artist voice? I know, I keep asking this question. What do I want to have as my “signature?” When people look at Sonji’s work, they see bundles and architectural pieces. Odile’s work is imagery and collage. Charlotte is mandalas. Traci Bautista is wild and crazy collage. Each artist has found her voice and developed it. I’ve been working on learning technique and developing skill. It’s time to develop a voice … something that represents me.

How does one begin to hear this voice and learn to listen to it? What questions should I be asking?

· When looking at my work, what do I want to explore further? Do more of?
· What medium do I most enjoy? Paint? Paper? Fabric? Mixture?
· What modality do I most enjoy? Canvas? Fabric? Books?
· What are my personal symbols?
· What colors turn me on?
· What would I want to do a series of (this is sort of what I ask my research students – what will keep you interested for a period of time?)?
· What do I want to learn more of?
· If I were to teach something, what would I want it to be?
· What would translate well into a variety of medium?
· What would be attractive to others? (I pose this question because I do have a desire to someday have my work shown and perhaps sold. However this question must not be a primary question at this point. For example, Eric says I should pursue more of the book art … but that is HIS opinion and I’m looking for what is in MY heart.)

OK, so I’ll start with these questions. I’ll blog these and perhaps other questions will emerge. I’ll also email these to some artists and ask how they developed their voice. OK, I’m comfortable now because this is research and I love research …

Meanwhile, I've uploaded photos of all my work to Flickr ...


McIrish Annie said...

Jan, I found your blog through Nellie. I read your latest posting and felt as if you were in my head. I went back and read through all of your postings and could identify with your frustrations, accomplishments, and joy in the quest for self expression. I am a litigation paralegal and about 6 years ago discovered quilting and found it a wonderful outlet. I have been a quilter for about 6 years and the last couple of years have become intrigued, no- obsessed with art quilting. I am in a similar position, looking for my "voice". I am currently reading a book on design for craftpeople, searching for answers, hungry for knowledge.

I have a blog which has, to date, been geared towards traditional quilting but after some blog hopping I find I am drawn to people like Nellie.

Thought you would like to know that there are others out here, trying to learn how to "talk" creatively.

Sorry I took up so much space on your blog. LOL. please email me if you are looking for a kindred spirit on this road.

Nellie Bass Durand said...

Okay, Jan and Mcirish Annie, as you both well know there are no specific answers. It's really a matter of just "keep doing the work". Keep doing what appeals to you, keep doing what gives you joy, keep doing what intriques you. Eventually, your voice (style) will emerge ... most likely. As we all know, there are no guarantees in life. My recommendation is to enjoy the adventure of your quest.

Waltraud said...

Hi Jan, we can ask these questions every day, but: we have to do it, it has to be expressed. I hope you understand me, my English isn´t so good.

claudine hellmuth said...

hi there! I found you through my google alerts!

I think the best way to develop your own personal style is to shut yourself off from looking at others work and make a lot of art.

Try to make something small each day and the more you create the more you will see your true style emerge./ After about 6 months of doing this spread out all you have worked on and then journal about it. what do you see appearing over and over again. what colors, images etc etc. It's only through making the work that you can find your voice. don't stress about it, have fun!!