Moving On

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about artistic voice lately. It’s a popular topic of conversation between artists, and sometimes an area of frustration for many. What is it? How do we know when we’ve found it? Does it change over time? I’ve been struggling with these questions as I revisit old work and attempt to find ways to make it still relevant to the work I’m doing now. I feel like my artwork has progressed significantly over the past year, and I’m no longer focused on the same style or topics that I once was. For me, this old work is still apart of my journey as an artist, but I no longer have any personal attachments to it. I recently revisited a simple black and white line drawing I did of the view outside of my kitchen window. This was the first drawing I ever posted publicly online, almost exactly one year go. I found myself wondering if there was some way I could rework it and feel attached to it again. And I did! For now at least. I think this is a really interesting piece of the creative process! Things can be reused and re-imagined and re-purposed in ways that reflect what we’re currently feeling/doing.

For me, this meant revisiting the design of the drawing, and figuring out how I could make it more visually interesting to someone who has already seen it a thousand times (me.) I did just that by adding a foil press technique to the design.

I was really focused on artistic voice when I first started painting, and really put pressure on myself to make everything look exactly the same. Now I just make things that I like, and I hope other people like them too! Skills expand. Style changes. Both of those things equal growth.

Learning curve.

Being a self taught painter, I really don't know the technical methods for creating. I don't know terms. I'm not a scholar on color theory. I just draw and paint things in a way that makes sense to me. One of the hardest parts for me personally, is starting a painting and pushing through to the end. Laying down the first layer or two of paint can be discouraging - nothing looks like you've imagined! Sometimes it's downright ugly! You don't always see these steps depicted on social media, for obvious reason. I spent this afternoon working on a series of whale paintings and I snapped a few photos in between layers to show you the build up of color.

 layers in progress

layers in progress

The first layer was just a wash of light blue, and layer by layer, I built upon that with the idea that I wanted certain sections of the whale to be darker and some to be lighter. I continued building up those layers until picture 4, where I began to add details like the eye color and stripes to really give the whale his personality. I originally drew this whale, and all of the other whales from the final piece, in my sketchbook. This helped me figure out where I wanted the darker shades to be, and how I wanted the whales shaped.

All in all, I'm really happy with the final product featured below:

Keep pushing through! You never know if the end result will be your best yet!