One of my favorite parts of being a high school teacher was teaching IB Art, a two year art program. There was a moment every year when a frustrated student, who felt their art was boring or like everyone else’s, discovered the common thread that connect their art. Being witness to that lightbulb moment was magic.
Hi my name is Carrie and here on Artist Strong I help artists like you refine your skill and develop your unique artist voice. Today on Artist Strong I begin a 5 part series dedicated to helping you find your artist voice.
Today’s message sounds obvious enough but SO many artists have resistance around this task: in order to discover your voice you MUST make a lot of art. Like I said, easy enough right? Wrong.
Artists have trouble with this for SO many reasons. Does one of the following fit you?
It feels wasteful to make all that art.
So, a lot of artists feel the only way to justify making art is to sell pieces so they can make more and justify cost of materials. If we have to make a lot of art to find our voice, it means spending money and time on resources on the journey to discovery. This ties into perfectionist tendencies: I can only make art “good enough” to sell or I shouldn’t be making at all.
We have few reservations about getting materials for our garden or investing in equipment that help improve our skill at golf. It’s time to see this making a lot of art as an investment in both skill and style development. (If we really decide we want to sell our art, a consistent strong voice is part of what builds a market and audience of collectors for your work!)
I have a great interview with Flora Bowley where she shares advice on finding voice, which I will link below this video.
The art we make will be bad.
If we make a lot of art, not all of it will be up to the standard we like for our work. In fact, in the beginning, most of the art may feel inadequate or not up to par. This is really hard when you have perfectionist tendencies or face constant reinforcement that art is talent and you either have it or you don’t. Thankfully, LOADS of research debunk the myth of art as talent. I have a great book for you to read about it called Peak I’ve linked it below this video.
We don’t remember because we were kids, but I’m pretty sure learning how to ride a bike had some scraped knees involved. Art has this, too. Give yourself permission to make “bad” art. It’s the ONLY way to get to something good.
I’d like to note here: if this is super vulnerable for you, make your art secretly and don’t share it. Our culture still enjoys celebrating the myth of talent and that can bring feedback you aren’t quite ready to handle.
Be realistic, not ambitious.
I do this all the time to myself: dream really big. And guess what? It makes the art or series I work on super difficult for me to actually finish.
Finding your voice is an exploration that already extends you outside of your comfort zone so ask yourself: what would make it easy for me to make a LOT of art?
Working small can help you have a regular sense of achievement and make art in small amounts of time (which means you have time to make more art!). Get 100 index cards to work on, or choose to fill a moleskin: find a system that works for you and stick with it.
Related to this, it never hurts to break tasks into chunks, or to batch your work. If you need to prime all of your canvases, for example, why not do it all in one go? Then it’s all done and you can focus on making your art. I have an article all about batching for you linked below this video.
As part of this series I’m hosting a Facebook Live weekly Q and A on our Facebook Page Becoming Artist Strong. I’ll give you specific feedback on your art and answer your questions about developing your unique artist voice.
Post your question or the artwork you want feedback on to the Facebook page, inside our Facebook Group, or tag me @ArtistStrong on Instagram. I look forward to seeing you Fridays at 12:30 Eastern Standard time.
Don’t worry: if you can’t make it live, the replay will be available on the Facebook Page, so start sending me your questions. Be sure to pop on either way to learn from other’s feedback and questions.
Now, it’s time to Be Creatively Courageous: Which strategy resonates most with you? Tell me which one and how you will apply it to your artist practice in the comments below.
It’s also not too late to join us for our community challenge the months of June and October called #ArtistStrong. It’s 30 days of art making and discovery. Just sign up below to get started.
Next week we are going to talk about the sticky subject of copying or emulating other artists. I look forward to that conversation. See you there.
October Art Challenge is HERE
#ArtistStrong is here: a challenge for the month of October encouraging you to set personalized goals for your art, and giving you the steps to achieve them!
If you want to find your voice as an artist, or you want to create steps to finally share your art on a larger scale, this challenge is for you. It's free, too! Sign up here to access Artist Strong's newsletter and as a bonus, enjoy this challenge, too! Mark those calendars: we begin October 1st.
I plan on making lots of art. Since I am an art teacher, I am familiar with many mediums. I know that I want to create art that addresses the issue of animal rights. I will start with a wonderful old goat named Jasper who resides at a farm sanctuary in NJ. I will remake his image in every medium possible and see which resonates with me.
Christine you have a great strategy. Enjoy that rabbit hole 🙂 it sounds interesting and fun. I hope you’ll share some of your Jasper works with me!
Hi Carrie, this was perfect timing. It’s actually a combination of all 3. I thought I got past the first one, but I think it’s there a little. The 2nd one and 3rd are definitely there. I already mentioned to you, what I wanted to do for my first piece of art. The angel in the club scene, and it seems like my idea always ends up over ambitious. I’ll explain in detail later but you caught me in the middle of brainstorming how I can make it better. The fact I do all 3 of them gives me the idea to use all 3 solutions. Make smaller pieces, to simplify my huge idea into a bunch of little ones that will stay with the theme. I’ll just do each one individually so that I’m not overwhelmed. Lastly I do have plenty of art supplies now so I’m sure I can get past all 3. I can’t thank you enough for this email.
Excellent. It’s great to hear your reflections and how you are adjusting your approach. THat’s part of the journey too –> being willing to adjust our expectations, our ideas, our approach as we learn more about ourselves and our art.