It’s been a LONG time since I created a body of art. University was a gift in that way: I had the expectation to create a body of art. I had studio space. I had community, peers aiming towards the same end goal: exhibition. I thought it would be easy to continue on this path. Ha. Twelve years later…
With my passion for and commitment to our community here at Artist Strong driving my choices and time, I made art, but never with any united vision or drive. I exhibited in Dubai and a little bit in Muscat, always in response to local calls to art. Something recently clicked. I’m not entirely sure what did it. Perhaps it’s finally feeling more comfortable in my own skin. But I know it’s time to investigate some new ideas. They’ve called to me in my dreams.
Knowing you want to create a body of art and having the idea, commitment and tenacity to finish an artwork are separate things. As I build Artist Strong and we continue to grow, I find my time more and more limited. I find excuses to work first on tasks for Artist Strong and tell myself I’ll do the art later. Oh, how I have the best of intentions…
I always return to my accountability calendar. It’s an ally for me: a visible reminder of my commitment to my art. Of course, it only works when I keep it visible and accessible. (A friend keeps it on her refrigerator door). If it’s shuffled under papers, or moved around, I often forget.
Our commitment is another great motivator and teacher. I love seeing people progress in skill, or hearing stories via email about your journeys. I can feel isolated in my studio and connecting with you all reminds me why I started this all in the first place.
Once I recommitted time by choosing art for my first activity of the day, it was still the question and struggle of: what do I stand for in my art? Do I have a unique style and voice? What do I want to say? Willing it to come didn’t make it happen. Making art didn’t make it magically appear. But making art got the wheels turning. And quieted the critic who was drowning the voice of my inner artist. Flora Bowley’s advice to her students is spot on: make more art.
As ideas for my work often appear, this series idea has come to me in a dream. Frida showed up. She decided to voice a desire to be visible, to stand out. I began looking at historical photos all the while following my curiosity for gold foil. Her image came together in a 40 minutes drawing session. There was no need to think or analyze, I was in was flow state: that pure, quiet religious place of peace, of being a channel.
Of course, Frida is only the beginning. I also had daydreams about other people. It was a call to research, to visualize, to put art on my Byzantine inspired pedestal. Another dream and Ai Weiwei showed himself. Then Amelia Earhart, Emily Dickinson…I could see an endless investigation and research into interesting figures of our world. And my body of work is now born.
For the next year or two I plan to continue this journey. I want to share the trials as well as the joy of extending creative process to involve lengthier visual investigations. I’ll share my work as it grows and the lessons that come from this journey. My aim is to exhibit this series in a solo exhibition in partnership with a gallery. Eeeeep. There. I’ve said it.
I’m sharing this with you today because I want to show you my own journey has ebb and flow. So many of you feel like you are unsuccessful at art because you are still discovering your style, or because you haven’t created a body of art. I studied art in university and managed to get an artwork at a temporary exhibition in the Smithsonian in my 20s. For whatever reason, 14 years later, I’m only beginning to find my voice. We can’t predict how long or short the time will take to meet our unique and individual definitions of success, but you know what we can do? MAKE ART.
Be Creatively Courageous: Have you had an idea or curiosity you’ve thought about investigating but have yet to stART? Today’s the day, celebrate your inner artist guiding you and share your curiosity in the comments below.
Wonder why it’s so hard to just say it?! I want to have a body of work that is gallery represented as well as for commercial use both for products and illustration. I am following that wish with series of illustrations and playful practice that brings out my love of nature focusing on birds as well as flowers and butterflies…presently creating a butterfly garden in my yard to nurture my love for gardening as well as creating a place for me to have direct, every day, connection for my art…it lets me take pictures on my i phone play with them in some apps and then paint them or just make cards too from the beautiful outcomes.
I’m practicing to get my people portraits to embody a fuller range of expression and wish to create a body of work that expresses the out flow of Bhakti with its ever increasing Love for God and His infinity in creation with all its beauty….I’ve got a little Ganesh thing going on with my art, it seems to take shape spontaneously, which is very dear to my heart.
thank you Carrie for all you share with us.
Bonnie I LOVE this. I’m so excited for you. Your goal is beautiful and seems to suit your nature and interests so very well. I look forward to being on this journey with you. 🙂
In addition to my series of 100 sacred symbols, which I completed earlier this year, I have a couple of other series I’m working on. Primarily these three:
Creatures from Folklore
Those are the working titles 🙂 I’m not planning on doing another series of 100 as it took too much patience. The Strange Birds are planned to be 15, and I don’t have a number for the other two
Hi Linda! Busy bee 😉 I think what you are doing sounds great and generally speaking I’d say 100 is quite a lot. Most artists in history don’t seem to stick that long with an idea, so it certainly makes you stand out. And in many ways, I’m not sure a lot of artists decide on a number either, they continue with an idea and as it evolves, perhaps it leads them to a new body of work! I’m enjoying your Strange Birds and look forward to seeing more on Instagram or FB.
Wow!! I just found this on Pinterest and decided to start my morning off with a quick read. I’m working on two / three series as we speak and I am very excited to think that I may actually have found my voice about a year ago – so it’s been great to now build on that to see a body of work come together. My only issue now is trying to keep up with my 7-month old and work at the same time, it an’t easy!!
Here are the titles:
Pompeii – this will be a series of six works, I have three almost done.
Sol Invictus – I’m still not sure where this one is to go yet, but it’s yielding some interesting things
Black – I’m actually going to explore how to underlay color with black over it, I can see it in my head – but not sure if I can make it magically appear on the canvas. Should be interesting!
Thanks for your blog entry, this one was an important read!
Hi Laura! Welcome to Artist Strong. 🙂 I know what you mean about the excitement around finding voice; I feel I’ve only recently really found mine. Being a momma and making time for making can definitely be a challenge. I remind a lot of people here that even if we make only 15 minutes a day that time adds up. I hope you find a way to maintain time and space for yourself that feels sustainable.
Thank you for sharing a bit about your work. Best wishes to you.
This is absolutely wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing this. I relate so much to what you said about leaving school and having a disconnect with your creative process. I too have experienced that. It is so much easier when you have a “team” working toward the same goal as you. I have hit dry periods in my artistic journey because I have not had the much-needed connection with other creative individuals. I often tell people that is the one thing I miss most about school, being surrounded by other artists on a daily basis and having the art prof. right there guiding us. Thanks again, I needed to hear this.
Vicky thank you for taking the time to share some of your story. You definitely aren’t alone and I hope the community here may offer a wee bit of that support and encouragement you seek!
Sooo glad I came upon this article,you,your words and experiences.Thank you for sharing..and for posting the other ladies experences.Encouraged today…Do you have a facebook page..would love to join 🙂
Jen I’m happy to have you here! We have a facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/becomingartiststrong and a facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/becomingartiststrong
Would love to see you in either or both!