For quite a while (as many of you already know) I have been struggling with finding my true path. I know one thing for sure, art is the road I want to take. But which one? I have heard a theory about how to go about ‘finding’ myself by just tuning in to ‘my whispers’, a way that lets my subconscious relay messages to my conscious brain to enable me get there. For me I hear the whispers, but they are not giving me direction. They are telling me where my heart truly is….but not how to achieve a means of getting to my intended goal. It’s like I’m spinning in circles….utter mind confusion. Do you have this problem, too?
I received an email this week from Robert Genn Twice-Weekly, an artsy newsletter I subscribe to. You can find his website here and scroll down to the bottom of the page to subscribe to his twice weekly newsletters. What he wrote this week brought me such clarity-it was like I got donked on the head. Here’s what he said.
Recently, Judith Meeks of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, wrote, “I’ll soon be chairing a panel discussion called ‘Finding Your Voice.’ In your understanding, how do we translate our life experiences into our paintings and express who we really are? We may have good work habits, but how do we become clear about what we want to say? And how much can be done with a conscious plan?”
Thanks, Judith. This is one of those sticky head-scratchers that can cause the loss of sleep. First off, and contrary to what I’ve said before, plans can actually derail the voice-finding process. Further, you have to know what you mean by “voice.” Voice in style is different than voice in cause. Ideally, style develops over time. Cause is based on attitude and issue. With growth and development, causes change. A predetermined voice shackles creativity. To find your very own voice, I think you need to have a few things going for you:
You need to make stuff. Artists who put in regular working hours find their voice. Work itself generates clarity and direction. It’s like invention–one thing leads to another. One must only lurk for voice. Unfortunately, along the way, most drop the ball. Like the dilettante inventor of the soft drink “6-up,” they just don’t stick around long enough.
You need hunger. It can be the hunger for knowledge or for self-knowledge. It can be the desire to find an antidote for some injustice or human miscalculation. Perhaps you need some inexplicable, deep-seated compulsion to keep moving forward.
You need curiosity. Wondering how things will turn out is more powerful than having a pretty good idea beforehand. Wondering if you can do it gives you reason to try. Curiosity is the main juice of “ego-force” that keeps you keeping on.
You need joy. You need to feel joy in yourself and you need to feel you’re giving it to others. As Winston Churchill said, “You may do as you like, but you also have to like what you do.” A disliked job is soon abandoned.
This is just what I needed to read. It’s not the fancy flourishs of words I’ve been hearing about ‘whispers’, like most good things, it speaks simply and to the point. It’s so clear it’s obvious. What I have to do is just do it. Every day. I need to make stuff, and by doing it daily, my style will emerge, my ‘voice’ will show through and I’ll be able to figure out what it is I want to paint and what techniques work for me and which ones I don’t care to use.
Thank you Robert Glenn….you’ve brought the sunlight to my darkened space of mind. I hope he has helped you, too.
john mayer’s ‘Clarity’