We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. T. S. Eliot
Choosing the head or the heart
I have to watch myself or I get too “heady” when I’m painting and I forget to tell a story. My background in designing computer systems may have something to do with that.
For that reason, I’m consciously painting “looser” these days. I try to avoid realism, not because it can’t be a story but for me, it becomes an exercise in skill, not story.
Loose, however, is not easy. My Inner Perfectionist wants it to look like a photo. (So does my husband, who just doesn’t ‘get’ anything else.)
To help break away, I’m experimenting with acrylics, bigger brushes, pouring and other mediums such as collage. I’m kicking myself because I gave away all my encaustic supplies before we moved. (Note to self: NEVER give away art supplies.)
As I play with these new (to me) materials, my inner dialog goes something like, ” What am I curious about? What do I feel? What do I want this to say…wait…that doesn’t look real…Oh, right. Back to story.”
Ask the right questions
The trick seems to be sticking with the right questions. The ones about heart, emotion, meaning and story. Doing a piece that is technically well-executed feels…well…satisfying and when I let it, the detailed work pulls me in. The problem is, it doesn’t share anything about me except that I know how to handle a brush and familiar medium.
A couple of months ago I had an interesting conversation with an artist friend who asked me about my style. I admitted to her I couldn’t define my style. Yet.
Up to this point I’ve been learning the mechanics and mastering my craft. However, lately I’m feeling an inner push to go to the next level and polish a personal style. My raison d’etre, if you will.
This led to discussions in our Facebook group on topics like our Why, being authentic and creative courage as I wrestled with this question. It seemed to me I needed to know me better, if I wanted my style to ring true.
Then, just recently a friend who is also a coach like myself asked if I was overthinking it. Ding, ding, ding. Lightbulb goes off. Of course I was! I was working WAY too hard on trying to come up with the ‘perfect’ answer.
So I promised myself to hold the question lightly and wait for whatever showed up. To stop thinking and just hang out with the question and make the journey. For some it might be an “AHA” moment but for most of us I suspect it’s an evolution.
So I’m creating while keeping an eye out for those clues the universe loves to place in our paths.
Style Clue #1
In the Facebook group we focused on the word WHY for a week and one of the members mentioned her reason was to have fun. That struck a chord for me. No. Wait. Let me be clear. Her words gave me good bumps.
Here I was, trying to make my Why be IMPORTANT and WISE and PITHY. I’ll bet you know what I’m talking about here because I see this in folks all the time and I fell for it, as well. I’d bought into the myth that if my Why didn’t sound like a quote from Mother Teresa or Nelson Mandela that somehow it wasn’t valid.
I mean, really, why can’t it just be about the fun? After all, I’ve always maintained if something I’m choosing to do isn’t fun, why am I doing it?
I used to do a lot of rug hooking but somewhere along the way I stopped. Too busy making a living, I suppose. Recently, my interest rekindled so I bought a small kit.
I was drawn to this little roly-poly sheep and completed the pattern in a week. As I hooked the last loops, the wind was howling outside and suddenly I heard Gramma’s voice in my head saying “He was 3 sheets to the wind”.
Only my brain heard “sheeps”.
Immediately I grabbed my sketchbook and came up with this drawing. It tickled me so much I kept going.
The ‘punniness’ demanded a painting that was playful and light. The next day I pulled out my acrylic paints, a canvas board and began to play with the idea. As it evolved I even found myself telling a story – something else I love.
Below is what I have so far. It needs the details like eyes and foliage but every time I walk by my easel I smile. I believe I’m onto something. The colours and simple figures appeal to something my heart. They cheer me up.
When I complete the final version, I’ll post it for you.
Style Clue #3
Most mornings, along with my coffee, I check out the CBC on my Ipad. I love the Nova Scotia news and also from Newfoundland (my husband’s home province.) While there are the usual crime reports and bad news stories, it seems to me they fill in with more local and human interest stories.