Finding your voice as an artist seems to be a hot topic in the art community, whether that is immersing yourself into freelance work, working out of a studio or developing a clear style and pursuing personal projects. For me it comes in the form of following what feels right stylistically and pursing a series of paintings surrounding a specific subject matter. Whilst I have tried to follow this path with my career previously, I had unfortunately not found much success. By that I mean I hadn’t found something I wanted to paint that truly gripped me.
Early this year, 2017, I let go completely of what I thought my art should be, and painted whatever came into my head for fun. Almost poetically without realising, each painting became focused on creating female characters. Soon I brought in symbolism for different ideas for each painting. It consumed my every thought with ideas of what to do next. I would wake up in the night thinking about it, and drift in and out of real life conversations deep in my mind and immersed in this world I wanted to create. I realised that finding your voice isn’t about looking for what you want to do, but doing what you love and letting your voice find you.
Of course nothing comes without running into problems. I want this series to have a strong emphasis on powerful female characters. Women with many different layers to them other than just beauty, big boobs and bums. Listening to episodes of One Fantastic Week with female guests talking about what it’s like to be a woman in the fantasy art industry, and reading Facebook posts from some of my female art friends, I realise that even today there are still issues surrounding women in film, games, literature and so on. One Facebook post really got me interested when the author of the post talked about a game where there were many dynamic male characters from all walks of life, yet the majority of the women were all very bland with nothing going for them other than good looks (or stereotypical good looks at least). At first I thought “damn game devs and their sexist views on women”, but then I realised that unless you are a woman it can be quite difficult to understand a women’s perspective on what life is and how that affects them. So as a man creating a painting series all about women, I realise that I may by accident fall in to the same traps that some of these game developers, filmmakers or writers have done. And I don’t want to!
I hear that using nudity can be a way of showing power, but without fully understanding, it is something I try to avoid. However, I understand the idea that my characters will have a personality of their own, and like every person they will have parts of themselves they like, and parts they don’t like. Like the saying ‘if you’ve got it, flaunt it’, some of my characters may show off their chest, bums, legs or other parts of them, but to me this just shows part of their personality, and I think that is important for creating dynamic characters. Obviously I may be completely wrong, but I am hoping with lots of research and talking to people I can find the answers I am looking for! With the nudity though, I guess as a man I am concerned about it looking distasteful rather than empowering.
I have taken it upon myself to work towards having a better understanding of what it is like to be a woman, and ways to create compelling stories backed up by real life experiences from women.
One of my efforts towards a better understanding is to speak to women about some of their experiences and the way they view things. I will be talking to my good friend Amber, a filmmaker, self-professed feminist and liberal thinker. We will be running through a series of questions and topics together relating to this subject. This will take place on 12th September and I plan to record some of my findings here in the blog, almost in the form of an interview. Also, I’m quite forgetful so it means I can refer back to it!
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