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Artistic Vision: do we really need it?

What is your vision for your art? Artists talk about vision all the time and the galleries that represent artists have their own artistic visions which defines what the business wants to build and create with their efforts. But how do we as artists build our own visions?

Last week we talked about inspiration. Being inspired to create is a fundamental step in your ‘making’ process. Having a vision enables you to channel that ‘inspiration’ into the ‘making’ process. It helps you create art that has an identifiable handprint - a piece of art that is recognisably ‘yours’.

So how do you develop vision? The fact is you probably already have a vision. Whether you are listening to that vision and letting it find expression in your art is another matter. Painter Georgia O’Keeffe describes vision as painting what she wants to say. Ceramicist Noriko Kuresumi says her vision is simple: communicating the interconnectedness of life and harmony of the sea. Photographer Diane Arbus sought to communicate inequality in America through taking pictures of marginalised Americans.

In other words, these artists’ visions are simply the key message they want their audience to understand when they look at their art. That’s why I’m sure you already have your vision - just like a writer who knows what she wants to say when she types her next chapter, so do artists when they start that painting, throw their clay or take that photograph.

The trouble is that over time that vision can become clouded. It can become diluted as we listen to other people’s opinion of our art, become overly influenced by another artist’s work or become bogged down in mastering particular techniques. Perhaps we decide that our vision is not worth seeing. Maybe we become fixated on sales and change our art to meet a certain gallery’s preferences. Or perhaps all the rest of life, its pressures and demands, clouds our vision so that having one feels artificial and unnecessary.

So how do you get your vision back? The overwhelming advice is to consider why you create? Why do you make things? Photographer Gary Randall suggests we ‘create our work to express ourselves in a way that conversation never could.’

So, what are you wanting to say with your art? What does it express? It might be something as simple as ‘look at my painting and feel calm, serene’ or ‘look at my sculpture and feel a sense of loss’. It doesn’t matter how complicated or simple your message is - just ensure that your work continues to communicate it.

Then, the more you create the more this vision comes through in your art. Randall explains this further: ‘[Your vision] creates an individuality in your work that will allow it to stand out from other work similar. It starts to express itself in the style of your art. Once you recognize that style you can refine it and make it all your own.’

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Obviously there’s the usual obligatory hard work involved. But in the end, it’s worth it. As art coach Renee Phillips says the key thing she looks for in an artist is that they have ‘found their own voice’ and have been able to shape their ‘feelings and ideas into unique forms’.


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