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Personal Style


Doug Sanders

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I'm in a philosophical mood today, and a comment passed on to Janel got me thinking...

I've been carving for a few years now and haven't really consciously thought of carving in one style or another. Sure, I've got artists/schools/periods I look to for inspiration or have respect for, but I try not to consciously copy the works of others. I had many carvings gathered recently for photographing and began to discern a personal style, for the first time. By this I mean an appearance, aesthetic undercurrent or mood generated by one's work.

It got me thinking, how do we arrive at a style? Is it a conscious decision to carve this way or that? Do we have a style from the start- was it always there- but doesn't show itself until we begin to reach some level of technical competency? At this point, are our skills good enough to make materially tangible what has always been internal and present?

When I went to art school in the late 80's, I was always jealous of the students who made every drawing the same way, or had a visible vocabulary from which they made art.

Is it easier to see individual qualities in another than oneself?

Why is copying seen as a negative act in the West while in the East it is acceptable?

I think for me, I carve what makes me happy. I strive to be the best technically that I can; I make conscious aesthetic and compositional decisions yet don't set out to make 'ART".

 

-DS

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For me, style evolves out of your skill set and your eye. I design pieces that encompass what I know I can do and what I want to attempt. There is a progression to the work and generally when I finish a piece, I already have ideas that I want to try on the next piece. Over time there developes a continuity to the work that can be identified as a style that is unique.

 

It seems as if this work is a constant refinement of not only skills, but eye. I see things differently than I did five years ago and I am reaching for places I didn't know existed. Everything is reflected in the work. It is truly a blessing we have been given, n'cest pas?

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Like Don, I think we develop a personal style through our skill-set added to our eye; or another way to think of it skills+imagination. I think it's useful and perhaps necessary to work in others' styles early in a career. This will help develop a skill base and your eye. To use a musical metaphor, you wouldn't think that an aspiring composer would get very far if they didn't play and study the best music of the genre they wanted to compose in.

 

It's a lifetime process involving a lot of reflection. It really comes down to your work eventually being a reflection of what's inside you rather than you conforming your work to some outside influence.

But it takes a lot of time to cut your skill chops and find what really inspires you.

 

Great topic.

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Hi, I have some thoughts and questions in this subject...

 

Than more I observe my work, that more see my narrowness. I am limited

by my experience, that that I see... All that I make (the subject, the

forms...), I draw on from surrounding space. All my work - only

interpretation. Certainly, this unique interpretation, my own. Second

such does not exist. But interpretation...

 

That such - creating??? This something new? That does not exist? That

there is material for this? You know what is a CREATING?

 

Sergey

 

------------------

My Website

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mmm. Interpretation vs. Creation . I think I know what you mean. I have always disliked the words 'creative/creativity', but I like this notion of Interpretation.

 

Perhaps Style is our personal language, formed from experience, inner spirit, likes and dislikes- anything that makes me 'Me' and not 'You'. We are given an outside inspiration or subject matter and it is Interpreted or translated by our Style.

 

This style does not show itself fully until we are competent and skillful, until our hands and head can speak for what is in us.

 

 

Interesting and meaning-full words: Style, Skill, Creation, Interpretation

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  • 2 weeks later...

Doug,

Since you have posted this I've been ruminating it over, and I suspect creative people have forever..

For the last few years I've been letting the material lead me in what I've been carving, a little unorthadox, maybe.

But working in hard stone allows me such liberty,,,since the veriaty of colour and shape are infinate..

And i guess there is no right or wrong way to create, the most important part is the doing,

When I went back to study fine arts, in my late 30's

I would tell my profs "one teaches by example."

I think this site is a marvelous forum for just that..

Ray

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Personal style is not a conscious part of my carving. As I work, the material and the subject encourage the decisions that blend the tool use and movements towards the completion of the piece.

 

How I work towards the completion may actually have a style or pattern, preferring to work around the whole piece in multiple stages. When viewing process photographs of other carvers, I have seen images emerge from one side of the chosen material to be worked on to the other side, but have not managed to grasp that style for my own.

 

I begin with imagining the form within the structure of the material, considering the lumps and faults of the selected piece, and where the waste material should be removed. Moving inward, the wood reveals further strengths and faults and may alter the form within. Round and around the material is removed, moving towards the final surface whereupon the details and inlays are introduced until it is time to stop. Sanding and finish treatments of color or oils marks the end of daily work and when the treatments have dried a course of polishing and rechecking of colors. The piece is done when it is done.

 

My preference is to work on only one piece at at time, but the thoughts of the next piece are being sorted out as my life proceeds. When at the end of one piece, waiting for inlay of eyes to cure or colors to become stable, the new piece may begin and the multiple pieces vie for attention.

 

I prefer silence when beginning a piece. When the roughing out is complete, and I am secure with the emergence of the forms within the carving and familiar with the direction of the piece, music or a book on tape is a welcome mental diversion which allows me to reduce the intensity of my focus. This seems also to help me work the overall piece in stages, not focusing to the detail point in localized areas. If the material presents something that requires a change in the overall plan (which has happened more than once) final details in one or another portion would make the alterations more difficult. A curious element with listening to books on tape or CD is that the story and the piece are a little connected in my brain, when I handle a piece from several years past (when I visit them in collections for example) sometimes a portion of the story line is remembered. Hmmmm.

 

Janel

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Awesome discussion.

 

I think what really effects me the most negatively is that I have an overpowering fear with regards to totally letting go and doing pieces that are entirely "me", it's hard to explain...

perhaps trying to make a living at this has a huge impact on my thought-process in that regard, but I have a huge issue with doing entirely what I want, as opposed to creating things I percieve as needing to be a certain way to appeal to customers, and provide a sale.

It's very frustrating sometimes, and depressing at it's worst.

I enjoy what I do very much, and I do get to put my footprint on stuff to a degree that I am thankfull for. But at times I'd like to create objects that come soley from within and I find that an incredibly hard thing to allow myself to do.

 

I guess I'm hoping I'm not alone in this... :)

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Finding the balance between personal expression and practical considerations is one of the ongoing exercises most of us have to do. I do find that if I please myself with my work, the sale will happen. I've tried making pieces that were "just like that one, but a little different" and it usually doesn't work out. The chi or whatever is just not there.

I think the key to my current situation is having been at it long enough to have enough customers with varied wishes so that if I make something I like, I'm pretty assured that one of them will too. It's taken a long time to get to this point, which could be either discouraging or encouraging, but there it is. None of this happens overnight, and that's part of it's appeal, don't you think? There's my sermon for the day. :)

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Well said Jim,

 

You often have a way of expressing similar thoughts to mine, but much more eloquently. Thank you.

 

I also believe that there is one person in the world who a particular piece will belong to, though it may take years to bring them together.

 

Yes, before carving wood, I too tried to fit some porcelain pieces into a lower price range with less detail than that of the newest and most excellent, and likely less inspiration. Those pieces did not become the property of someone else because they did not contain the elements of the exciting new work. Lesson learned.

 

I am committed this year to make a piece similar to another from last year, but the wood itself will determine the differences and my desire to grow will move the subject along to a new expression.

 

Now, I do make pieces that take less time for fun exercise and abstract expression now and then. Sometimes the wood encourages that. It is like stretching and taking a refreshing walk before beginning the next compellingly detailed piece.

 

Janel

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Janel,

I too harbour the same thought that a piece will find it's rightful owner..

Mind you my pieces have a much harder time of it than yours being kept from the market place or from being shown..

It is something I continue to wrestle with..

The wonder of nurturing images out of nothing , other than an idea or notion..

I find that facinating enough to keep me going..

But the whole marketing and hustling ones work is beyound me...

I guess dropping out in the sixties effected me more than I realized

Ray

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm really out of my league with so many astute expressions above me in this string. Nonetheless, I have some thoughts about style.

 

I have always noticed style in the art of others while being unable to see it in my own renderings. I think it is most difficult of all to see our own style.

 

To split the hair a little further, it is more difficult to perceive style in the work of artists working in realism vs cubism and other abstract venues. The more accomplished a realism artist is, the more challenging again to find hints of personal style. If you were looking at a group of living leopard frogs, although each might be slightly different in size and coloration, would you see any differences in their style? Let me spare you the pain of wondering - the short answer is "no". Accomplished realism artists (I do not know a proper term for such) like Janel and some of you posting in this string, are creating pieces so closely resembling the real creature, that beyond mastery of technique, viewers are left with composition and perhaps an artists' preferred medium as registration markers for style.

 

It is easier to notice style in the work of amateur artisans like myself :lol: My pieces, at best, exploit illusions of reality. In other words, my pieces, at best are glorified cartoons of the living subjects rendered. If I am able to lead the eye from one line to another and from texture reminiscent of the real thing to another, I have accomplished my goals for the piece. I have no formal method or technique. Therefore, it would be easier for viewers to recognize pieces made by me. But you folk... good Lord.. that is another story! If any of you were to dabble in an abstract art form, style would be more prominent.

 

If each of you carved a totally new netsuke (unsigned) and had them all judged "blind" by a panel of professionals that are familiar with all of your works, and asked the judges to match each artist to the piece they made... it would be very interesting to see how well the judges would do and beyond their selections, how they made their decisions! My guess is that every choice would come down to subtle nuances of composition and choices of materials. Am I droning?

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  • 4 months later...

Awesome discussion.

 

I think what really effects me the most negatively is that I have an overpowering fear with regards to totally letting go and doing pieces that are entirely "me", it's hard to explain...

perhaps trying to make a living at this has a huge impact on my thought-process in that regard, but I have a huge issue with doing entirely what I want, as opposed to creating things I percieve as needing to be a certain way to appeal to customers, and provide a sale.

 

hey buddy:)

i play a game w myself in this reguard

i PRETEND i,m rich

and dont need the money

but

sometimes my game turns and bites me in the a-s

cause i really do need the money

we r under the gun to produce

and that stiffels

harley

productionline possum

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Guest ford hallam

Hey there Possum,

 

its interesting that you`ve just been drawn to this thread, cos` when i wrote my last post over on the" tool marks" discussion I felt that I`d begun to address this issue. Check it out if you like, perhaps you`ll get my drift.

Drift being a major problem for me, I keep driftng off in random directions, must pull myself towards myself. Maybe that a more common problem? wadda ya think?

 

btw, your distinct prose/ train of conciousness style would be perfectly at home over here in the west country, Wiltshire, England. ;)

 

regards, Ford

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