As I was writing in my Brain the other day (what I call my sketchbook notebook), I noticed that the underlying theme I was writing was about staying authentic, having that true voice in my creative work. The artists I admire so greatly all have such a unique style. (Think the late Dr. Seuss). They are true to themselves. I’m sure they weren’t overnight successes and somewhere along the way someone might have told them they were “doing it wrong,” or “too different,” or even told, “Why are you drawing in crayons, when the “in” thing right now is pen and ink?” And yet, they persisted, staying true to whatever was streaming out of them.
Finding that creative style all your own can take years. I know when I started out, my pen and ink drawings were wobbly at best. After lots of training at college, my drawings got more rigid or detailed. My illustration teacher, Dennis Corrigan, taught me how to fine-tune my pen and ink skills and include background places in the drawing for the eyes to rest. I would consider these drawings more realistic in style. This is one of my favorites of Lilibeth and Emily, my first beagles.
Where I am now in what I create is more of who I am, many years later, with a looser feel. My style is more clear and true to my voice, with a mix of precision from before, with whimsical loose. To tell you the truth, I don’t know how in the world I ever drew that many detailed lines. I lack the patience now and, ahem, cough, the eyesight. I know when I started I lamented I couldn’t be loose and free like some artists. Today, I embrace what I got.
Finding that authentic voice is a lot about being trueest to yourself, and folks can feel it. I’ve seen a lot of Potions out there lately on how to have a successful business. It looks like Fancy Seminars online to sign up for free this or that. It looks like pop in your photo here and take pics of your breakfast. It’s like the girl in high school who loses her identity so THAT boy will like her. All of a sudden, she loves basketball and hiking and wears tight jeans, when everyone knows she prefers soap operas, the mall, and the preppy urban look. If there is no PASSION underneath it, there’s no voice. It’s an empty voice. It should look like this:
These kids have a strong, clear voice with their own sense of style. This is fierce passion in action. (SOURCE: NBC World of Dance on Youtube).
Creative folks out there that have such a distinct voice take us into their worlds. We can feel that energy bubbling all over. We feel that expression is coming from a deep source. I rummage through folks on Instagram that copy the mixed media crayon style like Teesha Moore or Jane Davenport. They are just starting in their quest. I am thinking down the line they will find that voice too after putting on someone else’s. Check out artist Claudia Six, who I found yesterday. Her distinctive imaginary friends and dark yet spooky style has a voice all its own. Check out her Alice in Wonderland series while you are there; theatrical yet whimsical. Would love to visit her studio.
More scouting around Instagram I look for the voices that can’t be duplicated. I found this artist from California.
SOURCE: Instagram, copyright Lissa Herschleb
Her style is funky yet distorted with a bit of whimsy thrown in. Her site. She credits “indigenous peoples and the spirit world” as her influence, and that voice is clear, raw and dramatic. You rock, Lissa.
A Fanciful Twist – Vanessa Valencia
SOURCE: http://afancifultwist.typepad.com; copyright Vanessa Valencia
And on the other side of the spectrum, Vanessa takes you into her world of glitter and colors and golden retrievers with hats, and you want to get lost there in her imagination. This is a world I bet unicorns live. Each year she sponsors Madhatter and Halloween blog parties that have been fun and entertaining. Her positive and uplifting style bursts through photos on her blog. And through her parties, many try to replicate her, capturing that magic, but that’s impossible. Which brings me to…
The problem with all this admiring is you can envy their style and end up taking on a little of it and muddy up your own. Glitter on my photos? Yes, let’s add that. Black somber seems to work, I will recreate that for my Instagram photos. You are now so far south of who you are and meant to be. Be inspired by their work. Use that inspiration to propel you forward to your authentic path. If they can do it, so can you. As I create my Idea Emporium book, I am constantly reminded of this. With my research I see in other books, my book develops, but I am probably best creating far from the computer or the bookstore so the book can talk how it wants to be. After all, the point of my design activity book is finding YOUR style and voice, not drawing the same cupcake I draw. I want to see your style, your design.
Grappling and pushing for your style doesn’t work either. You have to get there with experimentation, discovery, and even a few accidents. It can take years or a month. It all depends on how far you can deep-sea dive into yourself, and how much you can bypass the quicksand — all those “not enough” voices in your head.
The advice I keep getting is to STAY AUTHENTIC, whenever I am thrown off course. Be true to what I do best, stick by it, don’t judge it, and that applies to you also. From the examples I shared, the most successful creative people seem to do just that.
Until next Blog Tuesday, find what floats your boat and calls to you the most… hey, that has a catchy feel to it. Could be a song. With lots of hugs,
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