‘Authentic’: adjective – real, true, faithful, genuine
During my artistic journey to date I have found so many things interesting, fascinating, joyful, a pleasure. I love seeing other people’s work and have marvelled in their skill and the results. I have learnt so much by trying various different things with varying degrees of success. And whilst, not infrequently, I have been able to produce something fairly competent I have often felt something akin to disappointment. Maybe some of this is the ‘fraud complex’ that many of us feel at times but as I explored more about finding one’s visual voice I realised that I kept feeling like I was missing the mark somehow, but couldn’t put it into words to describe it.
I have spent quite some time reflecting on this and looking for inspiration that would help me understand what was going on. I have come to the place of explaining it in this way: for me it is about being ‘authentic’ in my art. But exactly what does that mean? Well, if I was going to write a book, I would want to write about something that was really important to me, something I really wanted to say. I think the same is about visual art – what is important to me, what do I really want to say or share with others, what feels really true to me? This is more important, I believe, in finding our visual voice rather than focussing on what type of medium, tool or technique you prefer or like to use. I realised I had become so distracted by so many things: different topics, styles, mediums, approaches – I was getting lost and my attempts were becoming random and therefore unfulfilling. How could I listen to the gut instinct inside? What was it trying to tell me? I think once we start to tune into these things we can listen closer to what our gut, our instinct is trying to tell us.
I realised that, at least for now, a hugely important thing for me is the land; the landscape itself, open skies, big spaces, the colours and the interactions of the shapes. Whenever I feel tired, stressed or pointless, I drive for the hills! I love the Yorkshire hills and in particular the moorlands. I love times when you go round a corner and have a ‘wow!’ moment with a view that fizzes in your stomach; rolling hills and valleys and big skies filling the soul and pinging that bubble of joy inside. I love the rough and scruff, stone, edge, bracken and ditch. I love the rugged coast line with hard rock and restless sea. Ok, and yes, I do love the softer rolling hills where fields form quilts and blankets jostling with each other, but oh the rough and tumble is where it is at for me! This is what I want to share! This is what I want to paint! This is authentic to me and who I am!
It was a ‘light bulb’ moment to realise this, that I needed to focus more on what really makes me fizz, and once I had that realisation things started to fall into place. Now I had a better understanding of what I really wanted to paint, I could then start to explore how I wanted to paint it, what approach would help me say what I needed to say, what approach ‘fits’ with me. I have become more directed in my purpose and understanding of my use of colour, line, tone, surface and so on. The following question has become my regular mantra: What’s my point? You could substitute ‘what’s my purpose?’ but ‘what’s my point’ is more direct and, well…………. to the point! When I am sketching – what’s my point? Am I doing the thing that moves me closer to that point or am I in danger of missing the point all together? What’s my point in needing to draw or paint outdoors? What’s my point in drawing or painting this particular scene? What will make my point best? What is my point in my decisions about scale and perspective? And so on.
This may all sound like the rantings of a mad woman but the result is that I am now producing more work that I feel really happy with; there is a greater purpose in what I am doing and I want to do more of it; and I am producing work I feel that I want to show people because, finally, I feel like I am really saying, authentically, what I want to say!