When I first started painting, I was all about creating things I liked from other artists. (That’s actually one method of artistic training. In fact, you can see young “painters in training” in museums and art classes around the world learning technique by analyzing and copying the works of the Old Masters.)
Problem is, as well as I could copy others, it wasn’t me. Their work was not my work. After a while, I felt like I was going for the title “Copycat Queen” and I didn’t like it one bit.
“LORD, who have You designed me to be as an artist?” I started to wonder. About that same time, I started learning about the artist’s “voice.”
In the same way that you can detect the writing “voice” of your favorite author after reading just a few paragraphs of their work, artists have their own “voice” as well. Problem is, it can take years to mature and develop your own particular style- your voice- as you grow your own “body of work.”
(Body of work = art speak for creating a TON of paintings, throwing out the crummy ones)
(Crummy paintings = ones that your own mother wouldn’t want to hang on her refrigerator with the fancy “I Love My Kids” magnet she picked up at her favorite Cracker Barrel on her last vacation)
There’s nothing that can replace just wetting your watercolors and painting to discover the artistic style the LORD has woven into you as a watercolorist. But, I have found a neat resource that has helped me take a giant step toward putting words to what I’m learning about my distinctive “voice” as an artist.
It’s a book called Finding Your Visual Voice (A Painter’s Guide to Developing an Artistic Style). The author is Dakota Mitchell with Lee Haroun (North Light Books).
Through thoughtful questions and samples of various artistic styles, this book inspires me and helps me get to the core of who God has specifically designed me to be as an artist. I really like all the insightful paintings, quotes, step-by-step demos, reflection questions, and interviews with artists in this resource. Plus, it’s FULL of colorful photos. (Woot!)
Again, no book can replace time spent painting, but this one can be helpful in giving a name to the kind of painter you’ve been designed to be.