Jul
13

How to (Re) Discover Your Artistic Voice

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(This is my 100th post! Yay, milestone! Thank you for being one of my readers. You make it worth it for me to write.

I’d love it if you’d help me celebrate and invite new readers by linking to me on Twitter or FaceBook or Linkedin or your favorite discussion forum–anywhere cool you hang out–and telling people why you like reading this blog. Thank you and big hugs!)

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Finding Your Voice

If it’s been a while since you made anything, you might feel like you’ve lost your artistic voice.

Or you might feel like you’ve never had the chance to develop it.

It’s hard to develop your voice if you feel like you have to squeeze your creativity in between the busy-ness of the rest of your life. But if you pay attention to yourself and all your creative actions, however small or sporadic, it will slowly reveal itself to you.

And the more you create, the more you’ll see it–which can feel exciting. This, in turn, can spur you on to make more art.

Even Creative Professionals Don’t Have it Easy

Making a living being creative does not necessarily help you develop your own artistic voice either.

As someone who has designed a lot of product over the years, I got very good at expressing my boss’s voice, or the owner of the company’s voice, or just knocking off whatever was on trend that we knew would sell (as fast as humanly possible). Because that was my job.

In fact, most design jobs require you to express someone else’s voice.

Usually I felt like a design chameleon–just tell me what you want and I can make it. I automatically sized up everything I looked at, trying to figure out how it was made, if I could do it.

I never just looked at something. Hazard of the job.

Which means even if you are creative for a living, you might still need to (re)discover your own voice.

So what’s a girl to do?

Pay Attention to Yourself

Pay attention to yourself as an artist by observing your choices and dwelling on your motivations regarding those choices.

This act alone is taking a giant step closer to taking your art-making more seriously.

Which is fantastic. Not ‘more seriously’ as in feeling emotionally heavy about your art, but ‘more seriously’ as in treating it like something that matters. Because it does.

Why?

Because it’s your ever-evolving creative essence with huge possibilities, that’s why!

Oh. (That’s you saying “oh.” I’ll let you sit with that one for a minute.)

As you wrap your head around that thought, as you start treating your creative self more seriously, it’s also important to continue to keep an eye on all your artistic decisions.

To see where your creativity is taking you–to find out what’s in your heart and what you’re trying to express.

Because frankly, your brain usually doesn’t really know. So it has to pay attention if it wants to find out.

Which is handy, because it’s great when your brain and your heart are working together as a team, it helps things flow.

But what exactly do I mean when I say “pay attention to yourself as an artist?”

Concrete Ways to Pay Attention to Yourself as an Artist

Notice your color choices and why you’re choosing them. Were they always your color choices? Do they feel like an accident or a habit or do you use them because they feel ‘safe’?

Or do they feel like you’re inexorably drawn to them?

Notice what images resonate with you. Are you drawn to certain shapes, marks, particular motifs that speak to you?

Or do you suspect that your choices are more trend-driven–relying on the motifs you see in work published in magazines that have passed the “good art” test (because they’re published)?

It’s great to be inspired by other artwork, I am all the time, but you also don’t want to fall into the trap of trying to make sure you make something good by replicated a popular lookyour voice needs to be heard in its unique expression.

For instance, coffee cup rings and envelopes are two of the marks and shapes that are important recurring motifs for me.

So I honor them. Which is the important next step. Don’t decide they’re silly or strange or not arty enough.

And you don’t necessarily have to understand your motifs or be able to explain them.

You just have to honor them.

Because they’re all part of your particular visual language and are your tools for expressing your creative vision.

Not sure if you have particular personal motifs? Keep noticing, they’ll start to crop up.

The same goes for brushstroke and line and medium–do you tend to turn to charcoal or pastel? Hard crisp pencil lines or fat markers? What about paint–oil, watercolor or acrylic?

Maybe your medium is needle and thread or beads or clay–ask yourself why your medium of choice resonates with you. What are you trying to express that this particular medium provides?

Just notice and honor, because your choices aren’t an accident.

As you begin perceiving all your creative choices as evidence of your artistic voice that you want to nurture and develop, you’ll start to feel a powerful shift in the way you treat your creative endeavors.

The Creative Breakthroughs Collage Tele-Class

Which is why I created the Creative Breakthroughs Collage Tele-class.

To provide some structured support to hold you up as you explore your creative voice. To allow you to experiment, take risks, find your edge.

To play.

While it can seem weird to not see the teacher or the other students in class, it’s also a fantastic chance to be undistracted by other people’s choices and decisions. To not compare yourself to anyone. To let your creative voice have a chance to emerge and grow and endlessly become.

I’d love for you to use the tele-classes as a tool–whether that’s to help wake up your slumbering creator from a deep sleep or to develop different creative challenges for your actively creative self every week.

No matter where you are on the productivity spectrum, this tele-class can be a life-affirming date with your artistic self to have permission to play, observe, and take risks.

To increase your self-confidence and give you a chance to experience the joy of knowing your creative soul more deeply, to feel intimately connected to your own true self.

You can sign up here: http://makegreatstuff/classes.

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Comments

  1. Kelly says:

    happy 100th post. loved reading this. it was so helpful. i loved what you said about even being in the creative field doesn’t mean you’re using your own voice. SO TRUE! i can vouch for that as an artist who is constantly on the watch for what’s selling in our galleries. this really made me think.

  2. great article sarah…so much to think about…

  3. yona says:

    thanks sarah, such a kind voice you have. is there a way to skype in on the calls, i only have a cell phone and not too many minutes.. yona

  4. Emily says:

    great post! made me think about this art gallery opening I went to last month. There were half a dozen artists represented. While I enjoyed their work, I felt like there were a lot of repetitive themes and a definite “trend” going on, with colors and subject matter. My suspicions were confirmed when I went to the local bookstore and saw very similar type work in one of the latest art magazines. It inspired me in the way that I want to make images that are uniquely my own. And a lot of that has to do with my own intuition.

  5. Jackie says:

    I really enjoyed reading your post after a long week out of town for work. I don’t think I’ve ever really thought about the colors I use and why I use them. Or the shapes I choose, etc. I’ll have to start paying more attention to these things. Thank you for your inspiration as I still search for my artistic voice.

  6. [...] week I talked about how to (re) discovering your artistic voice along with some concrete ways to start paying attention to yourself and your art-making in order to [...]

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