Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Trouble with Defining Style

I took up a big job this week. I decided to sort through and weed out all the photos on my computer that focused on my artwork/card making. Add on top of that project, the fact that I have been working more hours at my "paying" job this month and you end up with posts like this. Not much new, but reflective.

I mainly take photos of my cards and projects to add here to the blog. I like to keep the better ones in case I apply for a design team or want to submit to some magazine etc. Having done this for several years now, it's interesting to look back on some of them to see what's changed and what hasn't. It popped into my head that this would be an interesting time to see if I had developed any certain kind of style.

I have always struggled with defining my style. I mean, I know what I like but to pigeon hole all my work under a particular "style" gives me the willies. Yet, it is that "style" that makes an artist's work stand out and be recognized as distinctive. Applying for design teams requires that you can define your "style". I wish I could. Even "mixed-media" doesn't seem right. My cards don't look like that but my canvases and art journal do, mostly. "Collage" is a broad term that doesn't really define a style but more of a technique. I am not an art school grad and even terms like "shabby chic" don't seem broad enough.

How to combine it all under a simple "style"?

Can you see my problem? How do you take all the above and lump it into a style?

I did learn by looking back on my past cards that I like to use a main large focal image and support it with background paper. I like a clean look to a card with a large focal or the entire front of the card to be an image. I usually rubber stamp cards and do very little with "mixed-media". For cards, I use stamps, ink, and patterned paper. I'll do some ink blending and coloring. While I'm not sure it falls into the CAS (clean and simple) category, the cards that I like the best have very little embellishment. Like those two above.
Not like these that I made in the past:

While I liked the concept and even the color palettes of these cards, they are too busy for me to really love. The Oscar card has disjointed elements, the rainbow card has competing images, and the Pop Of Color card has just too much pattern. I don't hate these cards but I recognize now that they didn't come easily. I worked too hard on them, thought too long, or maybe just hit a road block.

That's what I learned today in my art journal. The page I was working on just wasn't making me happy. I realized upon looking at it that I could see how hard I had worked on it. I needed to loosen it up, to not think so much about that finished project and just throw some stuff around. I needed to relax into the page and make it happy. (I'll be sharing that page when I share my next installment of my Inspiration Wednesday Journal.)

But that still doesn't help me define my style. What kind of style is defined by a large focal image supported by messy backgrounds or patterned paper that just make me happy? I know there are things that I'll always like (ocean life, cute critters, and circles) and things that I always won't (crazy birds, girl forms, and red) but that doesn't mean you won't see the things I don't like in my work. And my work is not defined by cute critters. In fact, I tend to go back to flowers mostly. Flowers with long stems. Backgrounds of blue and green. What do you call THAT style? Scenic?

Perhaps, I should start using the term "eclectic". "Eclectic": deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources. 

I have shied away from the term because I always felt that it told you nothing. In some sense, it does. It basically tells you that you're into everything.
Or maybe I just haven't the right word yet. Maybe I haven't the art background to determine my style.

Or maybe I'll forget about it and just do what I like, when I like it. I've never been a fashionable trendsetter.
Perhaps my style is "Me".

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Dahlia Cards

So I couldn't wait to start playing with a new set of stamps from Hot off the Press. It's a set of layering stamps featuring dahlias. And man, am I addicted.

Here's a few looks at what I created.

In an attempt to use up some green scraps, I just stamped it on there to see how it would look. I ended up liking it a whole lot.

The next step was to try out different colors. Check! I still love these flowers.

I'm in serious love with layering stamps. I have always liked flat cards...those that don't have foam tape and lots of 3-D embellishments. One layer. These stamps are awesome for that. I'm pulling out the MISTI for a few sets of these babies.

Now that I have my "samples" created, it will be even more fun to recreate them for sets with differing sentiments.

Take care.
"I love it when a plan comes together."  --Hannibal Smith, "The A-Team"

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Art Journal Adventure: March 2017

The month of March in the Art Journal Adventure. If you're new to the blog, this journal is inspired by weekly prompts put out at the Joggles Blog. Every Monday a new prompt is given and you can go to work in whatever art journal you got or follow along in a dedicated one like I've got. I'm using a large Dylusions journal this year.

So let's get started. Remember, this is for a whole month so it's a long post! (But I know you just look at the photos anyway...right? heehee)

Week #10: Travel:  When I see pages dedicated to travel, I usually like them. I like maps and postal elements that are usually used in these artworks. But I admit that I don't much like to travel. I like day trips and long weekends but long vacations aren't my thing. I do them once in awhile but I get more excited to have a week off from work to stay home. Anyway, travel pages are always difficult for me to do because for me...getting there is NOT the fun part.

So my Travel theme turned more into a "vacation" theme and I wanted the look to be very "scrapbook"-like. I used up some old supplies (which always makes me happy) and I got to break out some new washi tapes. The ADK stands for Adirondack which is an area close to me to which I have traveled for many a day-trip. The "photos" (they are really souvenir postcards) are of Ausable Chasm, another day trip destination.

I wanted this spread to reflect the natural beauty of the Adirondack Mountains. There is nothing quite like going to the mountains in the summertime. It seems remote but isn't. It seems pristine but has a lived-in feel. It is wood and water and rock, the bare essentials of the earth. It is wild. It is a different world right next door.
I really like this page spread. I'm particularly proud of my river. It didn't seem like it was working but it turned out just fine.

Week #12: Silhouette:  I was inspired by a couple things that came together in a timely manner. In the week that the prompt was posted, I received my rubber stamps in the mail. The stamps that arrived were two sets that I had pre-ordered back in January. The Tim Holtz sets of sea life and butterflies. I desperately wanted to use the butterflies. My original plan was to create a silhouette with the Fearless Face stencil system (Joggles) and use the cut-out butterflies for hair. (I have not abandoned this idea either. I'm certain it will show up in art journal or canvas soon.) But my brother posted on Facebook that week about his wall. His house has a stone wall that every few years or so collapses after a hard winter. He had posted a photo of the collapsed section. For some reason, the image of the stone wall stuck with me and this is the page that came from all those things coming together.

The rocks of the wall are tinted whipped spackle that I was using up as it was drying out. I used a black gelato to mix into the spackle and I mixed up three different batches. One turned out pretty stone gray, another turned out rather dark, and the other I didn't mix well so it came out with a fantastic streaked look. In any case, it worked way better than my original plan (just to stencil with black) and gave the spread some dimension.
Since all the butterfly stamps were very unique, I went with a rainbow effect for my pop of color. The background is all Lindy's Starburst spray (Black Orchid Silver) and a touch of Magical powder (Lindy's Screamin Banshee). My silhouette turned out fairly well for free handing it. In fact, it rather looks my cousin, Patty. This spread may end up on canvas as well because I just love it.

Week #13: Opening:  I struggled with inspiration for this page. But the phrase of "open your mind" just kept resurfacing so I went with that. Having wanted to use the face stencil on the silhouette page and then changing my mind, I reached for it here. I laid down the background colors then walked away for about a week and completely forgot my idea! Thanks goodness, I recalled it as I sat down to work but I almost changed gears completely. (Note to self: when walking away, leave yourself little hints as to where you were going with a page half-done!) Any way, I attribute the bright colors to the lack of them on the previous spread and the rest just happened to be within reach on my table. I like it but it still seems to need Something.

Week #14: Home:  I struggled with this one, too. I immediately thought of "home is where the heart is". I tried to pull in "home made" as well with a quilt like look. It didn't turn out quite the way I wanted but I think that's because I went with the washi tape. I think I may have liked this better if I had cut papers for the large rays rather than using the tape. 

This page is a learning page for me. It tells me a lot of things and that's okay to have in my journal, too. Some days art is hard. That was this day.

So there's March all summed up...some good, some bad.
Here's hoping April will be much the same or better!
"Some days you're the pigeon; some days your the statue."