I have been experimenting with mixed media for over a year now which has involved trying new things, different approaches to creativity and unfamiliar media. This has necessitated me trying to find my own style when working with those media and tools. I am also now a third of the way through the Life Book course. Being exposed to different tutors with their diverse styles and differing approaches to creating art has also meant trying on new styles. It is a case of seeing what fits and what doesn’t, which approaches mesh with my own style and artistic taste and which don’t work so well for me.
I have been finding that when I get the most frustrated with attempting something new it is either because it is pushing me way out of my comfort zone – which can yield positive results – or it is because that style or approach just doesn’t connect with me so effectively. When I am at all disappointed in my response to a Life Book lesson, I have to take a step back and figure out why. I have to ask myself which elements I like – perhaps a colour scheme or some mark making – and what aspects are leading me to feel “meh” about the piece. I am coming to the realisation that working intuitively is not successful for me because I always get back inside my head. I am just too much of a control freak to let go to the required degree. What I am, therefore, attempting to do now is find the balance between being intentional and then being playful within the parameters of what I am aiming to do. I am also accepting the fact that my natural style is that of an illustrator. Whether I am at the whimsical or realistic end of the spectrum, I default to a more illustrative approach rather than a painterly one. That is completely fine by me. It is a style I enjoy and it is where my strengths are as an artist. All the practice with acrylic, however, is definitely helping me hone my skills with that medium. I still have a long way to go but I have come on in leaps and bounds since starting the Life Book course.
I have, therefore, decided that – as and when time allows – I am going to revisit some of the Life Book lessons and see how successful I am at adapting them to my own style and to my own approach, meaning that balance between intentional and intuitive. The first one I decided to revisit was actually a recent one, a lesson by Tamara Laporte on intuitive portrait painting. My control freakery had completely asserted itself during the painting process and my style was, therefore, far too tight and rigid as a result. I reflected on the resulting painting and analysed what worked and what did not work. I liked the composition with the head on the right side of the paper and I liked the circular “halo” around the head. I also liked the 3/4 facing portrait and the use of drips and splatters. What I did not like was the hair or the geometric shapes.
I, therefore, used the elements that I had found to be successful and ditched the rest. I wanted a more muted, neutral colour scheme so I went for browns but mixed with metallics – bronze and gold – and I worked as intuitively as I could manage on the background of the left hand side by dripping and splattering, my concession to a lack of control. I allowed the spatter to continue into the hair of the figure in order to unify the two sides of the piece. I am much happier with this version. It is much more “me”.