2.16.2015

Artist Q&A: How to Find Your Voice as an Artist




I am excited to continue this series with a question every artist asks herself. And one you that will be asking yourself a million times more...

Question from a reader:
I love this idea! My question would be How do you find your voice as an artist? Any exercises, books, etc., that you'd recommend?


Who am I as an artist? Finding the answer to this is the secret every artists wants to figure out. After reading all kinds of books, spending a lot of time online and grilling all of my artist friends, I have come to only one conclusion. *You must do the work.* Only time spent creating will help you reveal the mystery. And this is one that will keep unfolding your whole art career. I am still asking myself who am I as an artist and I suspect in twenty years I will still be asking myself the same question.


But, I have to start somewhere! Chances are that you didn’t just wake up one day and decide to be an artist. Being an artist is truly a calling and I suspect an interest has long since sparked in you and has been growing. You’ve probably already started down the path and have a general idea of what you want to do. What is is? Do you have a favorite subject, color palette, choice in materials? You may have a long list of ideas or directions you could possibly take off in, but start by picking just *one* thing. Now it’s time to FOCUS and challenge yourself.


OK, how do I challenge myself? Paint 100 paintings. Yep, this is where I would begin. Actually, this is where I DID begin. After taking a long break (like 12 years) from painting, I knew the only way to grow and learn again was regular practice and I wasn’t going to accomplish this without challenging myself. At first I started small and drew every night for 29 days. Then I did a countdown to spring painting flowers in watercolor. Eventually I worked up to a longer series called 100 Little Memories. If you give yourself some parameters and specific goals for the challenge, you will really learn a lot about yourself as an artist and what you are capable of doing.





  1. Choose your medium. Maybe you already know you want to be a watercolorist or an oil painter. Or maybe you just are not sure what will suit you, but to start, pick one medium for this project.
  2. Pick a subject or style to tie the challenge together. You could paint all landscapes in soft pastel like I did. You could choose a limited color palette and work on still life. You could get very specific and work solely in collage on paper creating fantastical creatures. But whatever you do, pick one of your interests that excites you enough to stick with it for 100 paintings.
  3. Choose a size. Let’s be realistic, you don’t have to eat the whole whale all at once. It might just be best to go smaller, something under 12 inches. But this is your project, follow your instincts about what you need to learn.
  4. Set a deadline. Maybe you have the ability to finish 100 paintings in 100 days, or maybe you need a year. What ever you do make sure you are setting aside time every week to paint. No point in rushing through at the end. This is about really growing your skills and your vision and it takes dedicated time.
  5. Ask for help from a mentor. This might be the hardest part, but there is no point in doing something 100 times if you are not growing and improving as you go and you must get feed back if that is going to happen. Join a group, ask a friend, find a community online if you must, but you must show your work to someone and learn how to improve on what you are already doing.
  6. Repeat. Still not sure if you are developing your vision as an artist? Start at step one and begin again. Eventually a pattern will present itself and your true self will come through.


So, How do I know I have found my voice as an artist? Only you will know if you are on the right path. Does it feel right? Are you excited about what you are doing? Does one idea lead you to the next? When you look at your work does it look like a fairly cohesive collection that says, “Yes I am the artist of this work!” And as soon as you as comfortable with what you are doing, challenge yourself again! If you want to find your voice as an artist *you must do the work*.

Kellee Wynne Conrad - the beginning of a new series.

And now I must do the work. I'm on step #6, Repeat. You can count on a new series of 100 coming from me soon!

*Final Disclaimer*
As with everything in art, once you've learned the rules, you can throw them all out. Do you have to do the same thing for 100 paintings? Do they have to all be of the same medium and size? Do you even have to do a whole 100 works of art? Only you can decide what works for you, but if you are going to run a marathon, you should start somewhere...and I think if you do the work you'll see the results. Go for wild ideas and enjoy the process!

Do you have a question for me? Leave a comment and your question may be featured in a future Q&A. Thank you!

Enjoy the Journey!
Kellee




“Don't wait until you know who you are to get started. If I'd waited to know who I was or what I was about before I started "being creative," well, I'd be sitting around trying to figure myself out instead of making things. In my experience, it's in the act of making things and doing our work that we figure out who we are. You're ready. Start making stuff.”


For more inspiration that can guide you in finding your voice here are a few recommendations:







The Abundant Artist


Leslie Saeta's 30 Paintings in 30 Days

4 comments:

  1. Before New Years, I decided to do some kind of art every day this year. I seem to use several mediums, I can't really stick it down to just one. The images are often landscapes, plants, and wildlife. My specialty is amulet art, where I build runes into the picture. I wouldn't say I've found my voice though.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Linda, Might I suggest picking one medium and narrow down your subject for just a little while. When we are scattered in ideas it's hard to see development and growth as an artist and find our voice. Try my new #100artworkschallenge!

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  2. I'm doing a 365 day challenge :) The problem for me is, that if I do too much of the same thing, I end up getting bored and losing momentum. Right now I'm doing a series on folklore, which might help. They're all on the same surface, using acrylics, but the imagery varies.I do other stuff in between to prevent the boredom. Like creating drawings for my own oracle deck

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  3. I'm thoroughly enjoying your posts and suggestions. I find them very helpful. Do you have any recommendations on how to decide on a color palette? I know the color wheel is helpful,but how do you decide what palette to go with? Thanks in advance.

    Esther

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