Hmmm, well this was a bit unexpected…I had intended on re-posting a blog from the archive this month because I’m still working on several paintings including more “Mosaics with Meaning™ ” (Yey!). And in the process of writing an Artist Statement, I wanted to share something that may help other artists find their own art style.
There are several websites that explain quite well how to write an Artist Statement, each has their own set of questions, most are similar but one site asked a different question than the rest.
“Do you have a certain theme often found in your work? And if so why are you drawn to that theme?” Innocent enough but the answer would bring greater clarity of what my own artistic style is. I hope my examination of my body of work will be of benefit to other creatives, especially to Christian artists, who may be seeking fuller understanding and analysis of why they create art the way they do and to help those who are figuring out how to go about finding what their art style is.
Communicating my feelings onto canvas is not something that I chose to do; my reasoning is feelings can and often change over time and are not an accurate representation of the artist himself rather it is a snapshot of a mood at one point in time.
Yet unbeknownst to me all along my work was subtly telling a story! My characteristics, of how I perceive the world without me actually trying to convey that to the viewer. It is something akin to handwriting analysis only in a different form, which got me thinking if this analysis is readable through my body of work surely it can be for any other artist’s work as well.
The following in italics will be re-written of course, but for now this was my thought process to the website’s question: “Do you have a certain theme often found in your work? And if so why are you drawn to that theme?”
“I noticed there are different themes depending on the medium I use, and it’s not even something that I purposely set out to do, but subconsciously.
For example, with my “Mosaics with Meaning™” and the prophetic paintings there is a strong sense of deep spirituality mixed with transcendence. This speaks of my own personal relationship with the Lord and my love of meditating on His character and in His Word. It is evident in the writing “The Gospel Message Hidden in an Anagram of the English Translation ICHTHYS: Jesus Christ Son of God Saviour” as well as in the painting “Jesus Close to the Brokenhearted” . Interestingly, several people have commented to me if it were a self-portrait. I didn’t purposely go about creating a self-portrait but the emotions and thoughts are true of me as I did endure at several times in my life that very thing the painting portrays. I had gone through a dark chapter in my life, and as a survivor of domestic abuse, had it not been for the Lord who sustained and led me and my children out of a violent marriage and healed me I doubt I would have survived.
With my photography I’m drawn to capture the odd, atypical, surreal or something unusual in life. “Foggy Winter Morning”, “Beséme” and “Red Lily with Moth” attest to this. (scroll down a bit to see them). This speaks of my independent nature that doesn’t conform to this world’s philosophy. The Holy Spirit has given me His desires that the world just cannot even come close to fulfilling. I also see this in how I use watercolor-atypically, by using a higher ratio of color to water to make a bold statement as seen in “Gardener’s Delight Yellow Lilies” (scroll down a bit). People think it’s an acrylic painting, but I like the richness of opacity in my paintings. Another difference is evident in how I think, having been told by professors in college and in bible study groups that “I think too deeply”. I’m reminded of Psalm 42:7. Yet that “deep thinking” sure helps me in explaining biblical truth in the iconography of my artwork. These all quietly speak of my unconventional character that shows up in my artwork.
With my other works, the paper cutting, and paintings of nature reveals my love of nature. I try to portray that in my work so others will be encouraged to think on a different level than just seeing common shape, color and form. To pause and really consider the simple beauty of a tiny hummingbird’s iridescent feather as seen in “Serenity Garden” . I want to help point people to experience just a taste of the awesomeness of God’s incredible imagination at designing everything around us from the intricacies of the tiniest microorganism to massiveness of the largest galaxy. Attention to detail is part of me and it shows in the “Goldfish” paper cut, again pointing back to God’s immense attentiveness to detail. An artist painting nature is like trying to replicate God’s incredibly vast, unfathomable creative imagination but on a scale the size of the tiniest atom.”
It’s not uncommon for many artists to go years figuring out what is their own personal style is. As an artist this was further compounded by the fact that I liked using different kinds of media to create art, but in art galleries and in the art world it’s discouraged and frowned upon. So be it! I tried it and found it too constraining, suffocating.
Besides, were not even Bezalel and Ohiliab during the time of Moses endowed by God “with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills” to create excellent work? They were masters of craftsmanship not in just one medium but in many in the construction of the Tent of Meeting of God. The following is only a partial list but you can read it all here Exodus 31:1-11 , these men were masters of woodworking, stonework, metalwork, weaving of garments, of making incense, and so on. Is wasn’t like that there weren’t enough people around so God had to use only two people, there were a whole nation of people to choose from. Apparently, God thought it was good to be a diversified craftsman/artisan. Praise God! What the world sees as not good God calls good!
Examining my artwork and its themes gave me a clearer understanding how seemingly different kinds of mediums not only communicated to the viewer how I see and do art but they all have a common denominator – that of pointing people back to God. My work only appears to be compartmentalized but in truth it’s really all one interconnected body of work. It’s liberating to know I can celebrate my unique art style which Christ made me to be. And I also believe Jesus wants that for each and every one of His artists!
May this post encourage you to find your artistic style and find out what your artwork says about you!