HOW TO RECREATE YOUR OWN ART (OR NOT)

How to recreate your own art? As I stepped into my art studio last week I realised what an unusually long period of time it had been since I had picked up a brush, mixed some paint or used my scissors. It had been almost two whole months. So I must admit I felt very out of practice and a little nervous as well. That’s why I decided to give myself something of a break and start of easy. Elaborating on some of my earlier works instead of wanting myself to create something new and unique immediately. This blog is about how I wanted to recreate my own art. How I failed miserably the first time and how I managed to succeed in the end.

WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO RECREATE YOUR OWN ART IN THE FIRST PLACE?

There are a couple of reasons why as an artist you would like to recreate your own art:

  • You want to get back in shape after a long studio break and decide you want to elaborate on some of your earlier works.
  • You’re quite fascinated by some of your earlier works and want to explore where you can take it in terms of theme, colour schemes, subject or size.
  • You feel like you’re onto something with these artworks and want to know what it is exactly.
  • The artworks themselves ‘ask’ for more. Like they are part of something bigger, or something different.

WHY I WANTED IT

In my case it was a combination of all the reasons above.

First, like I said, I wanted to give myself a break and ease into making art again after a long break.

how to recreate your own art: my botanical abstracts on which I wanted to elaborate
My botanical abstracts (summer 2020)

Second, I wanted to explore where I could take my botanical abstracts in terms of art practice. Because ever since I painted them last summer I was fascinated by them. Not only by their final results but also and especially by how they came together. They were the results of the most care free art practice I had experienced so far and I loved everything about them.

Third, I wanted to discover what it was that made them so unique. Because care free art is the best. But if you can’t remember what it was you did or aren’t able to do it again then it’s just luck. Or so did I feel at least.

Fourth and final, I also felt the artworks asked for more. Like they were supposed to become part of a larger family of artworks. I already fulfilled their wish last year by making botanical sculptures. But they were very convincing: they wanted children of their own. And if art is speaking to you like that, the only thing you can do as an artist is to oblige.

how to recreate your own art: botanical sculptures to go with the botanical abstract paintings

HOW TO FAIL AT RECREATING YOUR OWN ART

So I got to work feeling quite confident. And I failed miserably. After six paintings I already knew I was heading in a totally different direction. But I wanted to use up my paints and keep on trying so I kept on working until I had twelve paintings. Twelve paintings that had absolutely nothing to do with the works I wanted them to resemble. The colours where off, the compositions didn’t work and I ended up feeling very frustrated that evening.

how to not recreate your own art: this is what I cooked up when I wasn't paying attention

The next morning at breakfast we talked about it and how I didn’t feel very motivated to get back in the studio. Because, well, I couldn’t even make something I had already made before. What kind of complete loser artist was I?! But as we were talking about it, it became clear that I just hadn’t done my research properly. Using the colour theory by Johannes Itten we analysed the new paintings and compared them to the earlier works. We concluded:

  • The colour schemes of the earlier works was tertiary, while the colour schemes of the new paintings was secondary.
  • Furthermore, the tones in the earlier works were more grayed out, while the tones in the new paintings were more saturated.
  • Composition wise the earlier works were more like complex collages with multiple layers, while the new paintings were much simpler with only two layers.

These three factors resulted in something completely different! So I had to get back to the drawing board. The frustration had grown into eagerness to get it right this time!

HOW TO SUCCEED AT RECREATING YOUR OWN ART.

This time I really looked at my earlier works: what colour combinations did I use? What composition choices did I make? Not taking anything for granted but really trying to understand my own work, my choices and my techniques.

After that I started mixing new colours. I used a lot of complementary colours to create the grey tones and tertiary colours. After that I decided not to just start painting but to sketch the compositions first. After that I coloured them in with my new colours and finally I got my results!

THE ART OF ELABORATING

What I’ve learned in the process of elaboration on your own art is that you will really get to the core of your art practice. It just won’t do to try to recreate things without really understanding them. Knowing what is going on with them. Elaborating on your art will give you such valuable insights into your own work I would highly recommend it to any artist!

FIND THE SPECIAL TECHNIQUES THAT MAKE YOUR ART UNIQUE

Last month I wrote about how to find your signature style. And though I still feel that’s a blog post worth reading I would like to add something to it. Something about finding the special techniques that make your art unique. It may be easier to find those as it is to find your signature style. While your special techniques will definitely point you in the right direction!

WHAT MY SPECIAL TECHNIQUES ARE

Cutting

Cutting may not be a special technique but it is a talent. I like to think I am a cutting pro. With my ancient scissors I even get through extra thick oil paint paper so that’s saying something. Maybe the special technique lies more in the choices I make while I am cutting. Where I always choose to cut my own drawings following their lines meticulously I cut my magazines and books differently.

You can see the difference below: magazine photographs and botanical shapes from books I always cut out with a small white space around them. There is no deep meaning behind this (I am sorry). But I have done this for as long as I can remember. (I am going to suppress the urge to tell you everything about all the collages I made as a child. And how I was always meant to become a collage maker, because seriously, you’ve probably read it all hundreds of times before).

Cut outs of my ink drawings:
special techniques that make your art unique mine is cutting
cut outs of ink drawings by the fran collage artist 2021
Cut outs of magazines and books:
special techniques that make your art unique mine is cutting
cut outs of magazines and books soon to become collages by the fran collage artist 2021
Composition making

Besides cutting there’s composition making. I like to think I am a pro at that as well. The best part of that is that I am not even judging with my eyes. I always make compositions sitting or crouching down. When a composition is ready my body tells me by standing up. The only thing I really have to do is to listen. And to practice my squats, because after 8 hours in the studio my legs get tired and my body doesn’t really care about compositions anymore… So yes, I use my eyes, but they feel more like a tool than like a judge.

If I had put one and two together I could have figured out my signature style way earlier. But then again, you have to be ready to find your style. Otherwise it will feel way to easy and lazy. Why’s that?

Time lapse cutting up paper

SPECIAL TECHNIQUES OR TALENTS?

I feel an artist’s special techniques are closely linked to their specific talents. As with mine (cutting and composition). I think it kind of works like this: you have a certain talent but you’re not aware of it (it usually goes like this with talents). Because it is a talent you like to do it, especially when you’re young and you just like to do what you like. So you keep on enjoying your talent and keep perfecting it out of sheer joy but you do not see it as something others work very hard for.

Talents are for lazy people, right?

Then you get older and you want things to be harder or you want to learn new and difficult skills and techniques, you see other people doing. Especially when you train to be an artist these kind of things can happen because you get inspired by other artists and want to be like them or want to make art like their art. Maybe you even stop using your talent for a while. Because it just seems too easy and too lazy to be just cutting things up while others are making the most amazing oil pastel drawings…

And then you hit a wall. That usually happens when you’re very tired, very frustrated, very unhappy or all of them at once. For me it happened when I was really very tired. You hit a wall and you lose purpose. Or you lose the joy in creating. What’s vital when you hit a wall is that you let it hit you. Don’t crawl back and change directions. Just let yourself crash into that wall and feel all the bricks crippling your motivation. Because once you have really felt that deep frustration and emptiness you will allow your talent to come back to you. When there is no energy for anything else, your talent will come to save the day. Because your talent does not cost you any energy. So it’s the only thing you will have the strength for.

Hit that wall!

Let it happen. Let is find you. Your talent and your special techniques. Let your talent bring you back your energy and your joy. And let me assure you: once you’ve found the immense childlike joy of working with your talent your grown up side will NEVER accuse it of being easy and lazy again. It will cherish the hell out of it and never want to be doing anything else!

HOW YOU CAN’T COPY SPECIAL TECHNIQUES

Many artists don’t like sharing their special techniques or their process. They are afraid people will steal or copy them. I am not afraid of that. Simply because I believe you cannot steal or copy someone’s special talent. There may be artists or children out there that can cut as well as I. Or that has the same eye (or body) for composition. I just know that I am the only one combining the two as I am doing now. So please, don’t worry about sharing your talents and your techniques. It is so rewarding for people who love your art to see, hear and learn more about your practice! It really gives your art an extra dimension. Like how I want my scissors.

HOW I WANT MY SCISSORS

Some people are very strict about how they want their coffee. I am not one of those people. I drink my coffee black, but I won’t decline a good cappuccino or even a strong espresso with a slice of chocolate cake. The again, I am very strict about how I want my scissors. To be precise: I want them upside down, pointy and small.

I very much feel scissors are designed the wrong way around actually. Because when you use your scissors upside down their agility is way better. It also makes you able to cut very tight corners. Furthermore I can only work with scissors that have sharp points. I am not even sure what’s the purpose of scissors with rounded of points? They always leave a little tear in the paper and by doing so making it impossible to cut a tight corner. Lastly, my scissors need to be small. I have very small hands (or so I have been told…) so my scissors need to be tiny as well. I can’t work with large (e.g. ‘normal sized’) scissors because I can’t cut

So, long story short, my special cutting techniques are made possible by small, sharp, pointy scissors that can easily be used upside down.

SO WHAT ARE YOUR TALENTS?

What about you? Have you already found your special techniques? Or are you hiding your talent away under assumptions of laziness? What is it that comes naturally? What things do not cost you any energy? I would love to hear from you!

ART TALK: HOW I MAKE ART BEHIND THE SCENES

Last week I recorded an art talk about my XXL Fruits. You can watch it below or check out my YouTube Channel. Part 1 is about the Fruits in space. Part 2 is about the Fruits on earth. I hope you enjoy watching them!

Art Talk XXL Fruits – Part 1
Art Talk XXL Fruits – Part 2

ART TALK?

As you know I post my art on Instagram (@art.bythefran) but sometimes I feel like the context is missing. Like: what was my inspiration for the whole series and how did the artworks changed while I was painting them. Very often I start out with an idea and as I go along it changes into something different. You don’t see that when you just see end results. So that’s why I have started recording these short videos. To guide you through my artistic process and show you my art in real life, with me for scale haha!

THE INTENTIONS OF MY ART TALK

My intention is to keep recording these Art Talk-videos with every new series op paintings I finish. There’s so much going on behind the scenes in my art studio and I think it’s a shame not to tell you about it and show it to you. It really is about the process of making art. With all its unpredictability and serendipity.

first draft of plum in space summer 2019 in catalonia
First draft of Plum in space – summer 2019
second draft: plum on earth, autumn 2019 back home
Changed it into Plum on Earth – autumn 2019
art talk about how my art comes together: plum in space, oil on canvas by the fran, visual artist 2020
Added shadow and more texture in the plum
art talk about how my art comes together: plum in space, oil on canvas by the fran, visual artist 2020
Added colour and to the leaves
art talk about how my art comes together: plum in space, oil on canvas by the fran, visual artist 2020
Final alterations before discarding it – I really hated the painting at that moment – winter 2019
art talk about how my art comes together: plum in space, oil on canvas by the fran, visual artist 2020
Trying something new: making it a yellow plum – spring 2020
art talk about how my art comes together: plum in space, oil on canvas by the fran, visual artist 2020
Final painting: Yellow plum, back in space, summer 2020.

WHAT IT IS NOT

It’s not my intention to ‘explain’ my art or to put some sort of deep meaning into it during my art talk. I leave that up to the viewer, up to you. I strongly believe explaining art is killing it. Information is key but forced meaning means the death of it. I create art because it gives me freedom. I don’t want to force the viewers look in some direction. On the contrary! I would love you to come up with your own way of looking at it. Your way of viewing it within your personal or cultural art history.