A Tale of Three Paintings
This seems to be the mantra in the creative world. Find your niche. Keep niching down and you'll find your followers / clients. You can't market to everyone or you'll be marketing to no one. But what if it isn't about marketing at all?
I hear and read messages numerous times a day about how as an artist you should find your own creative voice and style and stay in your lane. Your medium, your painting technique, the subject of your art should identify you as the artist without having to look for your signature on the piece.
I wholeheartedly agree that your work should be YOURS (not copied from someone else), but art to me is the very definition of freedom and creativity. I bristle against the notion that I must choose a medium and / or a subject. Maybe it's just part of my personality. I've always been one to do whatever someone told me I couldn't. My practice of using multiple media and subjects may prevent me for being "known" for something. But I can't stop.
I see the similarity in my art to music in that it is driven by emotion or feeling. Some days I feel the need to paint softly, and others very defined. Some paintings call for muted and transparent and others call for a punch of color. Just as some days call for a little bit of country and other days are all rock n' roll!!
That's why I was so thrilled to come across the quote above from Lenny Kravitz. And as I searched I found numerous others (musicians, artists, writers) who have said something similar.
"(I was) very much like that, and very much a loner, you know and I didn't fit really into sport or all kind of group activities as a kid, I couldn't find a niche. And music was not really part of the kind of village curriculum that would, you know." Eric Clapton
"I don't really need to stand out, there's room for everyone. Although I haven't built a niche yet, I'm just writing love songs." Adele
All three of these FAMOUS musicians state that they couldn't or haven't found a niche but they are unmistakable and immediately identifiable when you hear their music.
And all three of the images of artwork in this blog are my paintings, prompted by the same subject but painted in different media. There may be some congruence in that the flowers are pink, but they all feel very different in my opinion, despite the fact that the same hand painted them. The acrylic piece was created in a time of complete freedom, fun, and admittedly, mess. The watercolor in a period of calm, and gratefulness for the beautiful creation of a peony and the soft fragrant reminder of spring. And the oil, in a moment of realization that this time of blooming and perfume is fleeting and I want to capture the softness as often as I can.
I've realized that as I grow as an artist, it may take some time for someone to identify my work or my style without consulting the signature on the piece. But I'm also becoming more ok with that being the case. More important to me is that art gives me the freedom of expression and melds with my emotions, just as music does. And without sounding illusionary or self promoting, I feel that is what I'm here for, at least right now. To create, and to show others beauty, freedom, and release in the creations so that they can find joy, and calm, and a sense of belonging in the here and now.
One of my favorite authors, especially on the subject of art and creativity, is Steven Pressfield. He captures that sentiment brilliantly below.
“Are you a born writer? Were you put on earth to be a painter, a scientist, an apostle of peace? In the end the question can only be answered by action.
Do it or don't do it.
It may help to think of it this way. If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don't do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet.
You shame the angels who watch over you and you spite the Almighty, who created you and only you with your unique gifts, for the sole purpose of nudging the human race one millimeter farther along its path back to God.
Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It's a gift to the world and every being in it. Don't cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you've got.”
― The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles
I do believe in God, and that He created each of us to serve in a remarkably unique way. So I'll continue to "give what I've got" regardless of whether it speaks to the market or not, in hopes that it moves us (me) one millimeter back to God.