Ever feel scattered? Or as if your work is all over the map or lacks a clear style or focus? Again and again I come back to this feeling that my work should be more 'consistent'. It should be recognizable as mine. And yet I would never tell someone else that their work should be consistent. I really believe (as you'll know if you've taken any in-person workshops with me) that you should explore what interests you. WE should explore deeply and honestly, and follow our passions and interests. Otherwise we're just banging out 'production art'.
The other end of that spectrum is skimming the surface of an idea. Try one piece, then move on. And that is not real exploration. I'm always telling people in my workshops to "do ten more" in answer to almost any question. But not "stick with that image/style/whatever for the rest of your career".
That said, some artists explore honestly and passionately in what looks to us viewers like a narrow, but deep, range of imagery. We read this as 'consistency' or 'cohesiveness' and seem to feel that this is the correct way to make art. Why the high value on recognizability and consistency? Does it make us as viewers feel good to recognize an artist's work? Or is it just more convenient for galleries and marketing?
Just like I have changed my profession several times over the span of my three decade career (potter, freelance art for manufacturers, painting and teaching), and my extracurricular interests are broad and cyclical (chicken husbandry, language learning, excel spreadsheets, graphic design, cheesemaking), my work changes in format and style pretty consistently. It is also cyclical. So I did stripes for over a year - that was the exception. But I've done stripes before, differently, with different perspectives.
Right now I am doing what I call collage quilts or collage mosaics, and then working them into pieces. The friggin world has fallen apart, and this feels like making something meaningful or just pretty, out of the shards. Or maybe I am just trying to make up a story that connects my work to something real. Oh well, it's the work I'm doing because I'm following what interests me. I'd love to get your comments on this topic.
|This is the mess, partially assembled.
|This and the following three images are the 'quilts', collage on very light-weight paper.
|Finished (I think) piece, as yet untitled, 24"x24", acrylic and collage on wood panel
|24"x24" on wood panel
|16"x20" on wood panel
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