Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Finding my Artist's Voice - Chapter 1: Look at Art

I thought it was about time to write something on this - and yes, I think this marks the official move of this blog back to being an 'Art' blog.  Watch for an update soon to the look of this blog - just as soon as I can get everything edited and uploaded. 
(c) Beth Cavener Stichter -

The writing of this post is spurred by my recent amazing news - I won the Bronze award in the Open category at this year's ISSA annual art show for 'A Dog Named DaVinci'!  I am completely thrilled with this, for a couple of reasons; it's awesome to win and the prize money will go to very good use, but secondly (and perhaps more importantly) this is a huge vote of confidence for me at a time when I really needed one and intimately associated with the topic of this post.

I didn't write much about it at the time, but last winter I went through a major artist crisis.  Since art isn't my primary job I think I downplayed it, even to myself, but seeing how much better I feel having it resolved (or at least on the road to resolution) I think that it was more important than I admitted at the time.

(c) Lindee Climo -
Last fall I found myself finally getting settled, making some forays into the local art scene, going to art shows to see what was out there, taking some classes and devoting more time to working on my own art.  That's great right?  

Except that after several months of doing more applied art I found that I had started numerous pieces and not only had I not finished anything, I had so many different genres, subjects, and even media on the go that I realized I was well and truly kermitting.  I would look at DeviantArt and each day come up with a different direction I could go with my work, but I only have so many years in this life (and only so much of that which I can devote to art) which direction to choose? I wanted to find my direction, my "Artist Voice".  

I did lots of web surfing and reading of blogs and articles on how to find your Voice.  Even as I did so I knew that words on a page were not going to help me - the Voice is such a right-brained sort of thing, it can't be fully analyzed, it can't be given to you, it can't be taught.  It's truly one of those personal quest things that you must set out on a Hero's Journey to find.  

In the next several posts I'm going to summarize what I did on my Quest and put it here for any other artist out there who might be trying to claw through their own intellectual thicket on this subject (individual results may vary):

Sunday, June 2, 2013

ISSA Show!

The annual International Society of Scratchboard Artists annual show opens next week in Vancouver, BC!  

I have three pieces in the show (shown below, you might have seen them in previous posts).  It is going to be an amazing collection of scratchboard art from all over the world - so if you have any opportunity to go check it out I strongly encourage it!!
(Click the image to go to the show's online preview!)
I feel incredibly fortunate to be a signature member of the ISSA.  I love that beyond being just a member, I actually know the founders of the society and was around (virtually, as is the way with things these days) during its conception.  The ISSA folks have been doing great things to help advance scratchboard art as it's own, legitimate fine art medium and among those things is the annual 'scratchboard exclusive' show that they hold.  

 "A Dog Named DaVinci" 8x8" (c) Pam Boutilier

Those not involved with this medium might not realize that it can be a tough one to categorize, and most juried art shows (the kind that help you gain recognition and sales and that are often a part of an artist's professional life) don't give much thought toward scratchboard art.  It's not that scratchboard art is refused or anything, it's just that you usually have to specify what medium or category your art is.  

 "Intensity" 4x16" (c) Pam Boutilier

Often the choices fall along the lines of 'Oil Painting', 'Watercolour', 'Pastel' in which 'Scratchboard' is rarely an option... so 'Other' it is.  If they categorize more generally: 'Painting', 'Drawing', 'Mixed Media' do you choose drawing because it's a line-oriented medium?  But the colour is painted on, and for my whiteboards the background is all brush-applied ink.. so does that make it a 'Painting'?  Not really.  Very often we are left to our own best interpretation and hoping that the jury panel agrees.  There has been no standardization.  This is a frustration for scratchboard artists, but also might be a turn-off for other artists starting out in the medium.  Part of the goal of the ISSA is to make scratchboard art a recognized medium in its own right and alleviate some of these problems.

"Storm on the Horizon" 4x4" (c) Pam Boutilier

The annual ISSA show is a fabulous event!  Not only is it a one-of-a-kind collection of some of the best scratchboard art from all over the world, but if you are lucky enough to attend in person (which sadly I will not be this year) there are workshops with some amazing artists.  I've met and hung out with these folks and can vouch for the fact that you'd be hard pressed to find a more warm, friendly, down-to-earth and interesting group of people.  If you are an artist and at all interested in scratchboard I strongly encourage you to try to attend the ISSA workshops (or you can purchase DVDs of previous workshops on the website here).