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 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:
Cut outs of magazines and books:
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?
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!