Why I am developing my artistic style

ok, so not one of my recent "strong women" portraits.
but this post should give some reasons as to why you don't
get to see them.
Lately, I’ve been working in the Ever After class which, while on the subject of fairytales, is a big step for me. It’s the step beyond “learn this technique” or “follow an artist’s footsteps” to uncovering my own style, and create paintings of my own.

I am loving this — learning what I like and don’t like, struggling to create expressive faces, and coming up with ideas that feel true to me.

I have learned that I like to paint strong women. Women who not only survive, but thrive. And weirdly, the eyes have decided to get larger lately. Maybe because I am seeing more.

But then the question hit me: Why do I want to develop my own style? What is wrong with following along with lessons? What am I going to do this style of mine?

First, I want to tell my own stories. Whether they reflect what is happening to me, or whether they are imagined, creating a portrait is a visual way of sharing that story. Even if they don’t look the smallest bit like me.

Art has always been just for me. Not for anyone else to see, although I do share with some trusted people. It’s to bring me joy and happiness and getting stuff out of my system. It sounds selfish but this is just for me.

I want to do more of it, but there are other demands on my time that I can’t give up. Such as the day job and walking the dog. I’ve trimmed back my television watching and blog reading, for example. I also can’t remember the last time I vacuumed the house.

But — you say — you can give up your job and work for yourself by making a creative business!

That is not for me. This is what I have learned from my last creative business endeavor (which was being published in romance): the moment it is work, the magic and joy goes away. (I also didn’t make a living from it.)

That is a very simple answer. It is more complex than that. Yes, I hated marketing myself and my work. Yes, I had some fear of “exposure” issues that needed work (and have been mostly healed, but the scars remain). And, yes, writing itself was no longer fun. And yes, reinventing myself for the third time just to get another book contract started to feel tedious and where was myself in all of this? Why was I doing this to myself?

Art is a safe space for me to dream, explore, play AND express myself.

I will not buy into the “if it’s good it must be commodified” thinking. That this must be productive work in the sense that it must make money in order to be of value, to be worth my time. I don’t buy that (pun intended). 

Making a product means finding an audience, who wants what you want— or, as I’ve heard it bemoaned among professional artists— going down the rabbit hole of making something that will sell that is not them. That is not me. Even ye olde painters and composers had patrons whose tunes they had to dance to. 

So, selfish it may be. But right now, my art is for me. My style will develop so I can visually tell my stories, and my art journals may all end up in the dust-heap when I die. But then, so will I. I’m not creating to make a legacy either.

I am creating for joy, for happiness, for self-expression, for empowerment. With uncovering my own style, that creating will be with my own voice, not my teacher’s.


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