Finding Your Artistic Voice by Katie Harmon

This month’s blog post is brought to you by my artist friend, Katie Harmon. Katie creates amazing ink and watercolor art from her studio in Olympia, Washington. Her work can be found at several Olympia area locations, including Splash Gallery and Gallery Boom.


Finding Your Artistic Voice

By: Katie Harmon, Ink & Watercolor Artist

When you start out as an artist, there is a lot of time learning the basics, adding to your arsenal of techniques, and honing those skills to more effectively practice your craft.  Somewhere in the midst of that practice, you start yearning to express yourself in a particular way.  Maybe it’s that one medium resonates with you, or maybe there is a style that you want to emulate that you have always admired from another artist.  But how do you create something that is intrinsically you?  Something recognizable and unique.

  1. Practice…. A lot….  I started drawing daily 6 years ago, and still do sketch or paint every day.  Not only is it the best way to grow your skills as an artist.  It is also the best way to solidify your style and your voice.  The more you practice, the more those things you render in your own particular way will become habit.  Want to emulate aspects of another artist?  Studies of that person’s art are a great way to start.  Looking critically at how they express and render certain details will give you insight into their overall style.
  2. Break the rules.  We spend a lot of time learning the “rules” of art.  Some of the things that are the most recognizably me are things that don’t follow those rules, but it works, because I know how to keep a balance of those rules to break and those to follow.  This all comes back to practice, as it’s the only way to effectively discover that balance.  Breaking those rules can lead to an illustration that is off balance or jarring (sometimes the intended affect) or at times they can lead to something feeling more ethereal or fantastical.
  3. Embrace your Uniqueness.  Practice those things you love that inherently create in your own way.  For a long time, for me that was hair.  I rendered hair in a very particular way.  Some might even say, the wrong way, but it gave my art a sense of movement and an illustrative quality that was very unique to me.  There are a lot of things I might not like the way I’ve rendered, and those things I work to change, but I believe strongly that our style is a collection of unique ways we see and render the subject we are trying to capture and we should embrace that uniqueness.
  4. What do you want to say?  It doesn’t need to be complex, but the soul of a piece of art is that message you are trying to convey.  Whether it is as simple as “enjoy this beautiful flower with me” or as complex as “I want to view my hardships as a path to beauty”, that message is what will connect your art with the person viewing it.  

Our style is an ever-evolving thing, a collection of the unique ways we see and express the world around us.  It is okay for that style to change and evolve over time – it is almost inevitable, but the one most important thing you can do to discover your own style is simply to create art – lots of it.  Art is such a wonderful journey of self discovery and I wish you the happiest path forward into the great unknown of your style.

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