Choking on your own style
There are many pitfalls along the creative path, let me tell you! If you’re susceptible to pleasing others, as I am, you’re particularly at risk of spending valuable hours, days and years making art that, consciously or unconsciously, aligns to the expectations of others.
For years I was the ‘woman who did cloud paintings’. I felt quite chuffed at the time that people recognised me in that way and I accepted the mantle wholeheartedly. But, the truth is that, in the end, you can choke on your own style.
Ideally, you ought to be able to allow the creative muse to take you where it will. But, it’s not uncommon for people like gallery owners, collectors and your loyal fans to uphold the expectation that you will continue to represent the style you’re known for. It’s understandable, of course, but it’s also very constricting for the artist.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about where I want to head as an artist. Having burned out for a good number of years from making art to please others, I’m in that awkward stage of feeling free to start again but with no real idea of which direction to move in. While I’ve been having fun playing around with paint, I’ve felt like I’ve been drifting somewhat aimlessly. The question becomes, ‘What do I want my art to be now?’
The answer to that is that I want my art to be authentic; for it to celebrate the things that have become important to me – colour and mark making being chief among them. I want to be bold, intuitive and trusting. Not surprisingly, I want to live these attributes in my personal life as well. It’s no coincidence that art follows life. It can be argued that life follows art as well. I’m counting on that.
I felt deeply inspired today to grab my favourite colours and just go for it, forgetting any allegiance to any former style and ignoring the inner critic that questions my stickability. Is this new painting ‘me’? I don’t really know; only time will tell. For now I’m loving the freshness and exuberance that this little mixed media painting exudes.
“Every painting is a voyage into a sacred harbour.”
Giotto di Bondone
Hi- I think you are not alone with those feelings.
I see a leap frog process, like action and reaction going on. I work like that also and often need a break and to learn to stand back to veiw the work fresh and with other part of brain (sometimes dangerous with a desire to change things)
I will look more at your work for inspiration – thanks Brian
Thanks for your thoughts Brian. Yes, it’s interesting how the process works isn’t it. While it’s natural for a ‘style’ to show up over time, it certainly shouldn’t constrain a person from experimenting and exploring.