An Artist’s Voice Update

Recently, I posted a series on An Artist’s Voice, and I want to give you an update.

What preceded these posts and headed me in the direction of seeking out my own voice was a class I took with Elizabeth Barton.  When the subject came up I said I sometimes think an artists voice is, in part, a marketing device and in part a decision to follow a certain path, rather than a natural inclination. She dubbed me as the class philosopher and the class proceeded from there.

Before the workshop, one assignment was to  investigate the work of  artworks that we liked and print them out.  During classes we viewed many of these to see what it was we liked about them and from this exercise, make an effort to incorporate the things we most liked into our own art and build from there a design for our next piece of fiber art.

Last Saturday I attended a lecture  by Leni Weiner called:

“What is a Voice, Why do I Need One, and How do I Find it?

She also wrote a series on the subject and you can read it by following these links. Specifically, Leni outlined  Ten Things To Think About To Help You Find Your Voice:

1. Quilt what you know.

2. Embrace what you love.

3. Abandon what you dislike.

4. Trust your instincts.

5. Develop your own working style.

6. Decide on your message.

7. Create a thread of continuity.

8. Engage in quiet reflection.

9. Work For Yourself.

10. Expect your voice to change, evolve, grow.

I was most impressed with her honesty about the subject.  Leni asserted that, in part, there is an aspect of voice that is market driven.  Galleries want to see a consistent style before they want to represent you. Jurists seek out works that are recognisable when they are choosing pieces for exhibition.

And she affirmed my belief that an artist must make a decision about what she wants her work to look like.  It’s not simply an innate style that necessarily emerges as if by magic. Now, it may happen for some people that they immediately and consistently work in one style, but I suspect that most of us start out by exploring the many avenues of possibility, which includes practicing a multitude of techniques, before we can even begin to determine how we want to express our own voice or work in a consistent style. (Of course, inherent in this statement is that voice and style are two different concepts, which I acknowledge, but for the most part, when I hear or read about voice, I’m most often hearing or reading about style as well. They are not so easily separable in our common usage.)

In a timely fashion, Elizabeth has updated her views on the subject in a recent blog post: Developing A Style.

As for me, I’ve thrown any angst I ever had about developing my own voice to the wind, favoring to simply enjoy the making of my art.

After the lecture, which was the first part of a VT/NH/Maine SAQA regional meeting. someone took some pics you might want to see. Some are of me with some of my newest pieces of textile art.

So I leave you with lots of links to follow up on packed with good stuff, so go check them out!

It’s Friday again, so I’m linking to Off The Wall Fridays, another always interesting blog!


4 thoughts on “An Artist’s Voice Update

  1. The voice thing is something I think a lot about and haven’t really resolved, but I was lucky to attend one of Leni’s lectures on finding your voice at the SAQA conference a couple of years back. The thing that resonated with me the most was your item number 3 (abandon what you dislike). I think there are varying degrees of this, but it was very freeing to realize that if I really don’t like doing something, I can be creative and find a way to eliminate that from my practice/process. Almost like being given permission to take ownership of my work and not have to do xyz because it’s what’s done. Seems silly, but it’s been a really helpful thing to remember.


    1. I think a lot of us like that one! For me, it was especially important to drop the traditional binding! I felt so freed up when I learned to face a quilt. But now, I don’t even much like the term “quilt’ unless it’s going on a bed!


  2. Great post! I need to work on #7 Create a thread of continuity. I do tend to jump around and play with whatever whim suits my fancy at the moment. I didn’t realize there was a SAQA group in Vermont. I’ll have to look into that. As far as I knew there are no fiber art or Rt quilter groups in the burlington area which is a bummer. Thank god for the Internet 🙂


  3. Sure is: Good folks there!

    MA/NH/RI is my primary group but you’re allowed to join a neighboring group as well or another that area that you may spend a significant amount of time in; for instance, if you summer elsewhere.

    I think we all settle into our “voice” when we’re ready. But some of it is discipline which I haven’t wanted to impose on myself in my art until now.


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