Finding your Voice with One Magical Mix
OK, so you honed your skills, read everything you can find, followed in the footsteps of icons and stood on the shoulders of giants.
You can now create something you are proud of. Something technically proficient that you would not be ashamed to have judged by your peers.
But now you see the the shadow of another person’s vision in your work. The same way of looking, the same way of talking, the same views.
Where are you in this dialogue? Which Artist is communicating with the viewer or reader? You or the original thinker behind the seminal work?
How many people have trodden this path before you and will continue to do so? How do you make a difference? How do you find your own path when so much pioneering work has already been done?
The Learning Zone
Back in time, when we started on our creative journeys (and for me that was well back in time :-)), we start off in the learning zone. We read and try, copy and try some more. Find information, practise and learn how to appreciate what has gone before.
As our skills improve our horizons change, our dreams start to coalesce into concrete goals. We have preferences for style and content and become zealots in pursuit of our own views of perfection. At this stage in our growth those ideals are coloured by what we know, what we have learned, experiences of masters we have sought to emulate.
The danger is that we may never break out of the comfort zone. We may never follow our own road, overcome our fear of failure and create something truly unique. Maybe we won’t recognise the need. Have you ever said to yourself
“it’s good enough. You can’t beat the best or better perfection. So this will do.”
Sometimes good enough is actually good enough. But not when you are still a student. Not when you are still walking in someone else’s shoes.
Maybe we are trapped in a bubble whose mesmerising colours stop us from bursting out because we will have destroyed that vision in the process. Will we lose that which we have toiled long and hard to acquire?
How to Move Forward with Intention.
So how can we break out of this bubble? If you really want to do it, you can.
One method I use regularly is simply to experiment. Let my media talk for itself and see what happens, making a note of what works and what makes a mess. I make a lot of mess. Honestly. And I don’t care. Because one moment may be magic. One moment may be a revelation. Some kind of alchemy hits the spot.
The problem? It’s a bit hit and miss. If nothing works you may end up feeling frustrated and fall into the pit you were afraid of in the first place proving you were right all along. There’s safety in the footprints of giants no matter how deep they are.
The solution? Introduce new ideas with intention.
So far in your journey, you will most probably have focused on one creative pursuit to the exclusion of almost everything else.
Writers write, Painters paint, Photographers take photographs.
Maybe occasionally you dabble a little in something else but you never take it really seriously. I am as guilty as the next person. For many years I focused on painting. Taking photographs was simply a means to record a scene to supplement my on site sketches, or to capture a likeness to study while my life model wasn’t there.
Now I embrace as many forms of image making as I can.
I also write, which is quite a shock to me. But it helps me to see differently, to focus on what I want to convey. It may take a thousand words but it still paints a picture.
It’s this combination, this cross pollination of ideas and visions that will move you forward faster than any focused study on one narrow genre. It will also create your unique perspective.
But don’t just take my word for it.
Take a look at Leonardo da Vinci
“ Leonardo da Vinci or simply Leonardo, was an Italian Renaissance polymath whose areas of interest included invention, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography. He has been variously called the father of palaeontology, ichnology, and architecture, and is widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time.”……Wikipedia
Everything he was curious about informed every other creative endeavour.
The Alchemy of Artistry.
Our creative endeavours informed by our own experiences in the world. The more of our experience we bring to bear in our work, the more that work reflects ourselves and the closer we move to finding our voice. To move that process forward with intention we need to broaden our experience. We need to absorb the lessons and ways of viewing the world of more than just a single genre.
Painters wouldn’t just follow the lessons of Rembrandt, photographers of Ansel Adams or writers of Tolstoy, we expand our horizons to include a number of influencers. So why not also cross boundaries to other artistic studies. Or as Leonardo did, the whole gamut of experience that fills us with curiosity, awe or admiration.
You don’t need to go as far as Leonardo, but adding another string to your bow will double the power you have available.
When we are trying to turn the base metal of our skills into the gold of our own artistry the alchemy of cross pollination will help us forge our unique path.
It is possible to find your own voice but it’s much more difficult if you limit your heroes and constrain your studies and practise to a narrow field. Try something new and ideas will multiply exponentially as they cross pollinate naturally.
We humans love to put things in boxes, give them a label and ne’er the twain shall meet. It’s time to make a point of introducing them and seeing where they lead.
Feel free to share your thoughts and observations below.