Friday, November 14, 2008

Creating a body of work

graphite 8 x 10

I've been thinking about creating a body of work. Its on my list and I know it has to be done. Not because my list says so, but because I know that to move ahead, I need a number of images that represent me, my style of work. And that makes me think about what my style is.

I've broken it down further to let me analyse what makes my drawing or painting my own and if it is recognizable to others as my style. I've looked at where my comfort zone is and what makes it comfortable. And I've tried to understand the subject matter that draws me to study it and put it on paper.

So what have I learned?

1. My style is 'soft' or 'delicate' realism. I don't use hard lines, bright colours or gimmicks. My work has a softness in terms of values and application. I look around the walls and through my drawing books and see my style coming through, even if I don't realize it at times.

2. My comfort zone is dry media, specifically graphite, charcoal and coloured pencil. I use wet media from time to time and enjoy it, but I know that my technical skill comes through in dry media. I know what to expect from it, how it performs on different media and that it doesn't add stress to me even in deadlines.

3. My subject matter varies, but again that comfort zone comes in the form of portraits, either animal or human. I draw other subject matter, but nothing grips my attention like trying to achieve soft fur or the light in a person's eye.

So I know more or less the makeup of my style, medium and subject matter, now I need to use that knowledge to create a number of drawings in a subject that has appeal, both to me, as I have to produce them, and to a gallery and the public who may like to buy them ultimately.

I know to produce a body of work, I will need likely 15 to 20 pieces before I can approach a gallery to even consider representation. Galleries like to know the style of work you do, that your work is consistant in quality and that you can produce X number of pieces a month/year. As with any other business, galleries create the demand through marketing and need a supplier who can deliver reliably.

I also know that to produce this body of work it will take time. I'm allowing myself a minimum of a year to produce and even that is optimistic, considering other elements of life that I need to deal with at the same time. But I sure will try. Planning is the easy part.


Rose Welty said...

That Hodgepodge is stunning Jeanette!

When you mentioned style the other day I was asking myself what I thought your style was...I thought all the things that you mentioned here. That softness...the realism...

Anyway, I think you've got it Jeanette. And you are a determined individual, you will create that body of work!

Anita said...

I am so in the same place as you - assessing a style and trying to pin down some ideas.

The body of work will come - with your mind set it should be no problem.

Jeanette said...

Thanks Rose.

I think by analyzing my style I came up with a good idea of just what I do and why - more or less. :)

I will find the start point for that body of work now.

Its hard to really pin point it, isn't it Anita? Individual style is there and constant, almost like your signature, but it changes a little from time to time. Despite the changes, the style is always recognizable.

vivien said...

a good analysis and good summing up of your strong points

- 'style' was always considered a dirty word by the tutors on my degree course! it suggests something over-conscious and stylised but I know what you mean - it's your unique voice as individual as your handwriting :>) - just be true to yourself and don't over-worry about 'style' - you do have a unique way of working that is clearly recognisable as you.

Good forward plan - fur and the aliveness of your subjects really show how interested you are in the subject - go for it!

Lindsay said...

What a good description of your style. Working in a series has been the single biggest boost to moving my own work forward. I'm excited for you and will be following along.

Stacy said...

Jeanette, it seems like so many of us are pondering style these days. For what it is worth, I think you already have a style. I can always pick your work out of a group. And like Rose, I think you nailed the description. Since you have already narrowed down the subjects you want to work on, I don't think you will have any trouble building a body of work.

~Gina Cuff said...

Hi Jeanette,

An artist friend and I were talking about finding your style the other day. And the way I see it is that your style emerges naturally as you continue to work. You don't need to do anything except keep creating.


Jeanette said...

Yes, Vivien, talk of style in art school usually means the style of the instructor of the moment. :) I think everyone's individual 'mark' is made without them realizing it.

Thanks for the support Lindsay.

Stacy, I think is is useful an analyse yourself and your work from time to time. Yes, I know what I like to draw, so hopefully the drawings will follow.

I think you're quite right Gina. Individual style of art can't be learned, it just happens as you continue to produce art.

Anonymous said...

I think you speak for so many artists on the cusp. But I guess I see it as you already having a body of work. What you've done is thoughtfully analyzed the characteristics of that body (or at least those pieces which you enjoyed the most or felt were where you'd like to go).

I can only speak for myself, but I think we all have a body of work. I know that I'm all over the board with variety and consistency is not my forte. This year I've been trying to work in series(s) (how do you spell the plural of series?) to try to get some continuity. By #5 or so, I'm getting kinda burnt!

It's so interesting to read about others' processes. Thanks for showing us what's 'under the hood'.