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.