Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mull it Over Monday: How to Find Your Unique Voice

"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly;  What is essential is
invisible to the eye."  --Antoine de Saint Exupery
Illustration by Mary Englebreit.  Visit her website, here.
One of the best compliments a visual artist can receive is to be told "Your work is instantly recognizable." I normally juggle a variety of different projects. They range from floral still life painting to commercial illustration. The artists I admire are diverse, understatement. (Here's two: David Riedel and Mary Englebreit)  Finding my own  unique style is an ongoing challenge.
I used to think it was necessary to switch hats to be successful. By day I'd paint floral still lifes and that's when I'd wear the JSS/MC hat (John Singer Sargent & Mary Cassatt, I know I'm pushing it, but indulge me!) By night, I'd channel Norman Rockwell and illustrate children's books. It's great to have art heroes but having your own voice and knowing what it is --is the ultimate goal for most artists.  But how do you get there??

One thing I've discovered: Your own voice emerges over time through the practice of It doesn't matter what project you work on or who you "channel." (I'm not the only one who does that, right? Heh.) If you are earnest about it and apply yourself in a consistent manner, all the things you wish to have manifest mix and simmer in the synapses of your unique brain... and eventually show up in your work. The mental painting notes, the art that inspires will begin to inform your brush... It's like magic when it happens. You can't think it into existence though. You have to actually paint a few miles of canvas first. This is something I'm still discovering. Having patience and working through it is important. I've also found that as my skillset expands my internal compass has become more organic and my need to "switch hats" has lessened. Sometimes it's hard to catch your stride, but painting every day is the by far best method I've found.  What do you do to make your art as unique as you are?


  1. I have to agree- its the miles of canvas that are like the scales of the musician.I go between observational painting, which are like my "scales", to paintings from my imagination, which I think is my more unique voice.

  2. Me too--paint, paint and paint some more. Feel free to wipe and start over too. Cezanne has been my recent muse but don't think I'm channeling him too well. Your animal paintings are great. Love the toys too.

  3. I've been enjoying your Monday mullings. It seems that style is something that comes along on its own, as long as the artist is getting the 'brush mileage' in.

  4. Sally, I'm amazed by painters who can paint purely from imagination! Stephanie: Thank you! RG: Very well put, that's about it in a nutshell!

  5. i found myself looking forward to your mulling - it was fantastic!

  6. I love your Monday musings, even if I don't get to them until later in the week! ;)

    I think an artist's style is as individual as their handwriting. It just happens, it just evolves. Especially when you're creating images about which you're truly passionate.


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