Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Artist's Hand: Begin Here

Every Monday, Wednesday & Friday, all throughout July, I'm going to be celebrating "The Artist's Hand," the most important tool you have at your disposal for creating work that is energetic, full of personality, and genuine.  The art and craft industry is right in your face every day, bursting with new and exciting product that they and their peddlers say is "must have."  Some of that product can amplify self-expression (and we'll celebrate that this month as well) but there's A LOT of "stuff" that at best, muffles your personal voice, and at worst, sucks your soul (and your wallet) dry.  Ahem...I'll do my best to keep my soapbox tucked away out of sight; my passion for this issue has only intensified over the years.

Like so many artists, I've spent a lot of time wondering and worrying about whether or not I had a unique style.  Am I whispering in my work or does it scream my name when someone looks at it?  For a while, I thought maybe, I was never going to be able to answer that question with certainity.  And then I realized that my fear of being heard was increasing in direct proportion with the amount of stuff I was accumulating.  Hmmm...So I brought the impulse buying to a halt and and I began to focus on skills, tools, and techniques that yielded more personal results.

So what does "the artist's hand" encompass? Here's what it means to me:
  • Doodling, drawing, painting, lettering...
  • Stencilling & Stamping with an emphasis on handmade tools or neutral, universal imagery...
  • Techniques/Tools with heavy hand/artist involvement: for example, ink jet transfers, sewing/stitching (either by hand or machine), photography, bookbinding, creative writing, altering and so on...
And here's the really exciting (and scary) part:  All of the above, things that make your work unmistakably yours, have one thing in common: imperfection!!  If you want to make authentic work, you have to embrace imperfection.  All the wobbly lines, stray paint splatters, bad rhymes, the out-of-focus, the off-balance or out of proportion - learn to love it all! 

On Friday, July 8, I'll talk about neutral/universal versus the pre-determined and on Monday, July 11, I'll write about my strategies for supply shopping that honor your voice (and your budget.)  And by the middle of next week, we'll start putting our hands all over our work with a short primer on lettering!  Hope to see you here!


  1. hi Michelle .. just wandering over from FTB again .. your blog and philosophy seems to fit with how I think. Looking forward to your future posts. I too have a soap box about the huge marketing machine which has rolled over all of us in the mixed media/scrapbook industry. It's rather frightening we have bought into it. I also believe, many of our projects now look 'contrived' rather than 'real art' which comes from the heart and not the scrapbook store. However, I will try and keep my lips sealed and move forward in the manner with which I am comfortable. Happy to have found you. Be well. :o) Donna

  2. "Embrace Imperfection" has become my new mantra. Yes, yes, YES! I totally agree with your post and am cheering you on from the peanut section. The scrapbook people in power have recognized that mixed-media artists can use many of their products, and we're being taken over by corporate to become Stepford citizens. Here, here!!! Hugs, Terri xoxo


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Thank you again for the time you've spent here. Most sincerely, Michelle

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