Tuesday February 10, 2004

Finding Your Own Style

[ The second of my responses to last week's writing prompts from Purple Ink, an eList for Journallers. If you keep an online (or offline) journal, consider joining Purple Ink. ]

Finding Your Own Style

I received the latest issue of WireWoman's "Lurpl" zine this weekend. Plenty of great ideas in there, as usual, but there was one thing in particular that I‚ve been thinking about since I read it. With any kind of creative venture, most of us have a tendency to seek out every book, website, magazine, and other resource we can find on the subject. We like examples and full color photographs. We try some or all of the techniques we come across. The problem is (at least, for me), that it becomes very easy to get wrapped up in these other people's styles.

How do you keep the scale tipped on the side of Inspiration instead of Imitation? What is your take on what WW calls "Buying The Book"? Whether you keep "art journals" or regular journals, do you like to read up on the subject or do you prefer to keep outside influence to a minimum? If the former, how do you stretch beyond the how-to books and come up with something that is truly yours (describe or show us some examples if you can)? If the latter, why?

Does anyone else suffer from inspiration overload? When it comes to diaries and journals of any kind, I tend to keep the how-to books to a minimum and avoid the magazines altogether. I just can't take it. My brain completely absorbs the stuff from the "experts"and the "real" artists, and I end up in one or both of the above two situations.

I've always been a great admirer of other people's work. As you say, I love to look at the magazine; I love pretty pictures. I like to walk through craft fairs admiring everything. I occasionally think "I could do that" (and not just about paintings that contain three amorphous splotches of primary color :-)

In my primary craft (programming and web weaving) I often take advantage of the programmer's virtues: Laziness, Hubris, and Impatience. ( http://www.io.com/~shiva/ninevirtues.html ). The virtue of Laziness includes never writing from scratch what you can borrow from somewhere else and build upon. Besides, which, I work best when I'm working from models and templates and examples. I work least well when all I have is instructions, theory, or requirements to go on.

My crafts have always followed a similar approach.

I've never felt particularly intimidated, however, nor have I tried to copy anyone else's work too exactly. And if I don't like a craft, or a particular project (or a programming language), I move on to something else.

I would credit my parents for why other peoples work serves as inspiration and example but not as (excessive) influence or deterrent to my own style. My parents are the truly creative people in my family. My mother (who wanted to be a dress designer) taught High School Art until I was born. She's run the crafts program for the Park & Recreation Department for at least 45 (OMG!) years. She's been a Brownie leader since I was entering 3rd grade (and my troop needed a leader). She made posters for a local clothing shop. She is CRAFTY.

I've been following examples, paging through crafts magazines, trying various techniques and simply playing around under an excellent teacher since I was 4 years old. I think, after a while, I just got really used to seeing more examples than I could ever begin to consider trying. For example, every summer, my Mom plans the craft program for Park & Rec. When I was a kid, that meant 10 weeks of crafts for 3 different age groups, thus 30 separate models per summer. It adds up.

My Dad is an architect, a fair hand with a caligraphy pen, quite good at sketching when he bothers. My Dad designed (from my ideas) and drew my book covers through Junior High and High School. He made tiny architectural scale models that I yearned to play with as a child. "Gift certificates" in our house were always handmade.

My parents can both draw. I'm crafty but not artistic and I can neither draw nor paint anything recognizable... maybe something that contained three amorphous splotches of primary color :-)

So I grew up surrounded by models and samples and examples and how-tos. Going beyond those has just never been an issue for me. The delineation between "model" and "my work" was ingrained from a very early age. Also, I'm a VERY independent person, so that, as well, makes me form a strong distinction in my mind between what I see and what I do myself.

My only "problem" has been to try to achieve some semblance of my results being anywhere near as good as some of the models I'm looking at! Once in a while (as with a delightful 1:12 miniature poinsettia I did once), I've succeeded.

Finding Your Own Style ( in category Memes & Prompts ) - posted at Tue, 10 Feb, 20:37 Pacific | «e»