Alright, so I did interrupt this series to take Thanksgiving off. But I'm back to finish out my musings on my creative identity with the final card, pointing to the future. The Emperor.
The Emperor stands for stability, authority, and control. Of the traits associated with the Emperor, control started to stand out to me more as I thought about it all. But whereas control can often be thought of as restriction and taking away agency, I started thinking of it as something liberating.
It has become apparent to me that what I need to do in order to find and feel comfortable with my own artistic identity and style is to take charge. I need to be the one in control of my art. That doesn't necessarily mean isolating myself in my own ivory tower of art like the Seven of Swords can imply with its suggestion of standing alone. It means deciding what I want to present and how I want to make it happen, and then making it happen my way. But like any good leader, I can and should allow myself to consider influences from others. Not to the extent of becoming a puppet and regressing to my past of mimicking other artists, but more like a line in the Tenacious D song "Dio," where they sing to the great heavy metal vocalist Ronnie Dio "Your sauce will mix with ours / And we'll make a good goulash baby..." (they use a lot of food metaphors). The important part is that I maintain my identity and control how much I season my sauce with others' influence. I think it's imperative that, as artists, we all take charge of our art and make conscious decisions about where we are headed.
As an example of what I'm talking about, I've been doing a couple of things lately. For one thing, I was working on corrugated cardboard. I had to be careful not to be trying to make it look just like Michelle Ward's excellent work with cardboard. So I added natural and dimensional elements, broke up the field a bit with some strong lines, and kept most of my elements pretty clean. I'm pretty confident that what I ended up with would not be confused with Michelle's work. The other stuff I'm working on is going back to sketching again. I've been looking at a lot of pencil art lately, and there's a big trend of photorealistic sketching out there. It's beautiful. And I've looked at some tutorials and stuff, and I kept thinking "man, I don't think I could ever pull that off." But I gradually came to realize that I don't need to, and nor do I want to. Just because I am getting back to sketching doesn't mean I have to make everything look perfect and realistic. By the same token, I also don't have to succumb to the "doodle" trend in mixed media. I can work in my own style and work towards perfecting the look I want. A look that is realistic but not perfect.
From all that, I've started to realize that what I want my art to look like is something that took some effort but was still fun. I don't want it to look like I've got some sort of god-like ability. I want it to look like the work of human hands, but hands attached to a mind that constantly challenges itself to improve. I'm moving away from messy towards intentional, yet organic. I suppose what I'm aiming for is a bit of a paradox, but it's my paradox and I'll take it by the horns if need be.
Of course, another thing I have to take charge of is my time. I need to be making more time for my art. But now that I feel like I have a direction, I think that whatever time I spend making art will be more meaningful than it has felt for a while.
Thank you for sticking with this and walking along this long and lonesome road of introspection. Please, leave any feedback you can. I would love to read what you think about these sorts of concepts. And now, back to all art, all the time on this blog :)