Finding your Creative Identity…..
Without doubt the most difficult stage of being an Artist.
I have been creating things all my life, some good, some bad but only recently have they truly been all mine. In sewing terms I have enjoyed creating for 6 years but can honestly say that I am only just finding my style.
As humans we want to learn, practice and master new techniques. Artists are the same, however, unlike learning to do maths well or wanting be a good plumber you want to be different and tackle things in a new unique way. There is a correct way to get the answer right in maths as there is a right way to plumb a kitchen.
As an artist you do not want to look like everyone else, you need to be different and have your own style…
The down side of this is that in the process of learning and building up our skills etc we go on courses and read lots of books with inspiring creations that we also want to make. But, the result is we make a picture ‘like’ the one in the book, not initially with our stamp on it!
I adore attending quilting course and learning new techniques from artists I admire and wish to emulate. However it has taken me a good two years to realise that you have to stop mimicking these artists and find your own style. Its not however just the style of your work you need to discover, its also finding a technique that suits you.
Don’t get me wrong, its scary, you doubt that you have it in you etc etc, You believe that without these artists inspiration you cannot create.
The first course I went on at Midsomer Quilting on the Mendips in Somerset was with a fabulous Textile artist called Effie Gallety. I love her work and she was utterly inspiring, however the best pieces I did at the time all looked like a form of her work. The same colours, landscapes and techniques, anyone seeing these pieces would have said “Oh Angela’s been on Effie’s course”. I knew this was happening but it was like a safety net, whilst I produced these pictures I felt I was creating good art. However, what I was creating was a copy of Effie’s work.
The pieces Effie produces and the technique she employs require absolute precision, your points have to meet. If they dont it shouts out at you and you can see little else.
Since being a child I have loved working in tiny detail, creating small pictures with little freedom of expression. As an adult I still love detail but this technique required me to work on a larger scale (avoiding pieces less than 5cms). Effie told me I needed to scale the image up as the pieces were just too small to accurately work with!
I found this almost impossible and when I did produce a larger piece, I gave still added lots of small details which utterly missed her point. Eventually I realised that this type of work was not going to work for fine detail pieces.
As time went on I wanted to try other techniques that were less rigid in terms of piecing intricacy. I met K3N (Kathryn Chambers) at Midsomer Q and loved her free approach to creating textile art.
Kathryn’s two courses blew my mind as she seemed to throw out the rule book and gave me permission to really experiment. Her work focused on the free-machine embroidery stage, adding detail, colour and textile with thread. I could finally add lots of details…. this was the beginning of an answer!
Yes, I came away from the first course with a picture in the style of her work BUT knew that I needed to make it my own.
Her course on Free machine embroidery made me…”take a thread for a walk’ as she put it and I seemed to find my love of sketching again (but with the sewing machine).
I have not looked back……
Since this course and with her enthusiasm I have taken aspects of what I have learnt from both these artists and started to experiment. No amount of inspiring books or courses can give you your creative answer but they can motivate and inspire you to start practicing and experimenting. Its obviously scary, as you can and do produce some rubbish along the way BUT occasionally you see a glimmer of what you can achieve.
The Midsomer Q “Music” 12×12 challenge allowed me to experiment. I love ‘Blackbird singing in the dead of night” by The Beatles. I wanted to use the striped Landscape technique K3N had taught me and added a bird in the foreground. This was the start of an obsession to create birds, sketching them, choosing fabrics and threads and playing.
The fact I am no longer copying the work of the artists I admire has finally given me the confidence to set myself up on Twitter (@AngelaKnapp10) as I want to start showing MY work/ journey and getting feedback. Scary, as there is no-one else to hide behind but far more rewarding than being praised for replicating another artists work.
So since November last year I finally feel I have started to find my own creative identity, I know it will not be my final one but for now I’m loving it.
Above is the unfinished study of a Pheasant. I am also working on some Barn Owls and a Goldfinch. I look forward to sharing this new work in my next Blog.
So since November last year I finally feel I have started to find my own creative identity, I know it may not be my final one but for now I’m loving it.