As you likely know if you're a regular visitor to my blog, I have been doing some heavy reading on elements of style and art quilting, studying via on-line courses, doing lots of navel gazing, and playing with small test pieces. All of this has been aiding in the development and recognition of my own personal art quilting style.
There are artists out there that are immediately recognizable. Offhand, I can pick a Hollis Chatelaine, a Caryl Bryer Fallert, a Melody Johnson, a Sonji Hunt, a Pam RuBert, or a Pamela Allen at 100 paces. There are others too, but a girl can only spend so much time name dropping.
The interesting thing about the artists I have mentioned is that all of them have distinct personal styles. They may occasionally do something different and less recognizable, but overall, what gives their work away is specific details of how they work, more than just what they do. Yes, there are the obvious things like favored colors, themes, subjects, or textures, but there is also a not so definable quality that screams to me "So-and-so made me!" Often, the work of students made in a workshop lead by a great art quilter will come out in an obviously influenced style, but that intangible "ness", as in "the Melody Johnson-ness" of her pieces, is missing in the work of the students. I'm not sure if I'm making sense here, but if you do get it, that's probably because you recognize the same thing in the work of these people.
I've been navel gazing because although I am just beginning to dip my toes in the world of art quilting, I want to do it in a way that feels right to me. I'm experimenting with techniques, with styles, and with colors. I'm experimenting with my subject matter. I'm looking at other artistic means of expression, such as collage, altered books, painting, etc. All of this, however, is being done in order to find what drives me, and maybe what defines me, as an artist.
I'm not looking to become a creator of instantly recognizable pieces - I'm just trying to find my voice, rather than the influence of so many other great and talented people out there. It is so easy to get distracted and spend my time trying this, that, and the next thing - but I need to also make sure that somewhere amongst all of the incredible and inspiring work that can be seen on-line, I find and focus in on what I need to be expressing, too.
Blah blah blah. Yadda yadda. Anyway, last night I went downstairs to my studio to make some bright yellow daisys on a black background, maybe in a 12" square. What came out instead was "the rust rules", postcard sized. Somehow, in all my navel gazing and exploration of techniques, my own style must have snuck in there when I wasn't expecting it and bit me on the behind. On scrolling through my blog archives, I actually exclaimed (aloud and to myself, confirming my suspicion that I'm a bit touched with the oddness) "Holy crap! Who knew? I have a style!" The best part? If feels right. It feels like coming home. It feels natural.
So, the entire point of this really long and rather boring blog post? Here's a great big THANK YOU to all of those who, along the way, have encouraged me. Your comments have been encouraging, inciteful, and appreciated. You have been a tremendous help in improving my output of completed pieces, even if they are small. You've made me realize that small is just another element of my style. Again, thank you! You are wonderful, and you have guided me quickly and gently through what could have been a slow and painful process. You all know who you are - so give yourself a pat on the back from me - oh hell, give yourself a hug!
Finally, the other thing I now accept about my personal style is my favorite part - I have permission to be multi-faceted in how I express myself, and in what techniques I use. I have permission to continue growing and developing my style. I am very happy with the last bunch of small art postcards I have done. I am also happy making big quilts for wrapping people in warmth, comfort, and love. Both of these things are good. So off I go - either to work on something big and comforting, or to work on something small and embellished. It doesn't matter which - both are within the range of my personal quilting style.
Becoming a part of this webring was the best thing I ever did toward the development of my own personal style. Thank you all! And good night! Elvis has left the building. Applause, applause.