Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Showing the Hand of the Artist in Your Work

Yesterday I was reading some old stuff I'd written about seeing the hand of the artist in their work and it got me thinking again. What I mean by "the hand of the artist" is that when you look at something that was created; a painting, a collage, clothes, or clay, can you see the marks left by the artist as they made it. For instance, in a thick impasto oil painting you can usually see the big brushstrokes/ palette knife strokes that the artist made while creating the work. Van Gogh's work is a great example of this because he used the impasto technique to give motion and emotional depth to his paintings. This is something I think about because I think so often we try to hide our marks as artists. We smooth out the clay so no fingerprints or shaping marks are seen, we use mediums so that our acrylic paints self-level, or we use guides as we stitch, or stamps instead of drawing.

In my current work the hand of the artist can be seen most dramatically in my cutting. When I hand cut each shape I'm going to applique, or hand cut my fabric strips or panels, you can most definitely tell. There's no straight lines, at best I can go for "straight-ish". Usually the edges are frayed and a bit wavy because I'm using a scissor instead of a rotary cutter and no straight edge. It gets frustrating to cut like this sometimes but it also allows for that chance cut that completely makes the piece. In my book I have a stitched collage that's a good example. To create it I cut big ol' petals out of fabric one by one. None of them are the same, they're all about the same size, but they're obviously cut individually by hand. You'd see what I mean if you could contrast the perfectly cut petals you get from a Sizzix machine or some other contraption that cuts for you. I'm not against these machines- secretly I really want a Tim Holtz Vagabond cutter- but it is a design choice I don't think we're always conscious we're making. Perfect of imperfect. Seen or not seen- it's up to you. :)

With the new "handmade" movement the irregularity and imperfections that were once a detriment to someone's work and made their art seem unprofessional or even primitive is now recognized as a benefit. Instead of seeming "childish", the rough drawn line or cut now has a handmade character which is a direct contrast to machine made, and mass produced. Funnily enough, it's become a trend of it's own- the hand cut stamp "look" is now being marketed in clear acrylic stamp sets. The doodle design trend can now be purchased. I'm not against any of this- in fact I'm super glad that we are learning to appreciate the imperfect, individualistic, and squiggly. But I want you to think for a minute if you've learned to appreciate that about your own work yet or are you still striving for perfect? Do you rip out a seam if the stitches wander a bit? Do you get frustrated with eraser marks on your sketches? Do you embrace the process of creating or do you try to hide that process behind a perfect product?

Just thinking. :)

5 comments:

scrapwordsmom said...

Really great post. I am guilty of going for the perfect look even though that's not my personality. I mean you should see me and my house...LOL! Well, okay I am particular with my hair;)

Anyway, this is something I'm constantly aware of and striving to do in my work. Thanks!!

Bev said...

i finally am really embracing the imperfections of my art, and i feel so free! it's liberating...
xo

AlwayzCre8tive said...

Its funny I am not a perfectionist with my paintings at all, YIKES! It's borderline crazy! I admire those who do the paintings with great detail and spend months or even years making the lighting/or colors just right. BUT, there's a big BUT... my style is definately more of an abstract-messy-imperfect style. I think this is why I am so attracted to your work...I like the whimsicalness of it. The one of kind... none other... like it! (Besides loving the color and texture)

Single Stone Studios said...

I think a little bit of this comes down to style. My dad is a fantstic artist but also a very logical thinker and his art comes out in building plans. But for me it's more a factor creativity and vulnerability, showing my imperfections as a person through my art. The more I do it the more free I feel. The more honest the expression and the more I feel like a real artist and not just a wannabe.

Nic Hohn said...

Imperfections, blemishes, organic lines,paint runs are all beautiful. For me there is a raw essence that brings life to a art piece. yes yes bring it on!