Saturday, 16 July 2011

How do you Develop a Style? Part 3 -the Shadow Style

Walrus Boy by Jesse Reno

Part 1 and Part 2 posts about how an artist develops a style.

We have talked about style as something that is perhaps inescapable, while also acknowledging that it grows and evolves. Partly unconscious, partly conscious. The 'us' in our artwork that we can't shake and also want to develop. Is this what they mean by an 'artist's unique voice'?

But I also want to bring up the shadow-side of our style. The inescapable allure of the opposite. The part of ourselves that is fascinated by the kind of work that comes most unnaturally to us.

When we see it, we might feel a combination of envy and inadequacy. A good example of one of my shadow styles is Jesse Reno.
Understanding Intersections by Jesse Reno
I look at what he does and how he does it, and I feel longing and inadequate. I am fascinated and almost shamed. In those feelings is a lack of honouring of the gifts and strengths in my work. I compare and see only my lacks.

These feelings are symptomatic of positive shadow projection. What does it mean? How can I use Reno's work and what it brings up in me to positive effect rather than turning it against myself?

In this kind of envy, there is often a signpost of possible new directions for our work. It can be a helpful bridge to look at what we already share with the artist. In my case I would say it is the love of the spiritual and trust in the intuitive. Although my studio work is planned, the inspiration is always intuitive. Even the decisions along the way are intuitive - not as quickly made as Reno's but based on similar foundations. We share an interest in nature and our work is figurative and symbol-based.

Our values are very similar.

So, from here, where does his work intrigue and pull me? To more trust of process. Perhaps to experiment, to try his way of working a few times and see what it might offer me. Not to feel that I have to go his path, but to be open to incorporate what might be helpful to my growth.

Opening to both his and my work in this way I see the similarities and value both. This gentles my self-judging thoughts and opens me to new possibilities.


Sarah said...

What a timely series of posts these have been for me - and this one rings so incredibly true. For the last couple of years I have been experiencing similar feelings when looking at work such as Jesse Reno's. In fact I have even tried to paint that way, tried to force myself down that path but when I do so I find I have to give up the things which are actually very important to me - to be able to tell the stories which come to me, and to develop, in my paintings (as opposed to the illustration work)jewel like depths of colour. But all this comparison and positive shadow projection tends to leave me feeling insecure - it's been valuable to learn that someone as experienced as you experiences something similar.

Ophelia said...

So awesome!!! Your work is gorgeous!!!

Zom said...

Ophelia, I am sorry if it isn't obvious, this is Not my work! I have labeled each painting by Jesse Reno - and I agree it is awesome but I cannot take credit!

Sarah, I am so glad the posts have been helpful. Thank you for acknowledging that. It gives me encouragement to keep trusting what comes up to write.

Kel said...

Zom, I too am enjoying this series of posts from you. Much to think about ...

Sharmon Davidson said...

Zom, I share with you that same feeling about Jesse Reno's work; I just didn't know it was called positive shadow projection. In fact, Jesse Reno was my answer to Seth's question about what artists you would most like to take a class from. Thank you for helping me to see that maybe I'm not as inadequate as I think.

Zom said...

Thanks Kel

Sharmon, I am glad if you feel that way. You are certainly not inadequate.
I don't know what it takes to paint like he does, but I think it is unusual.

Bren said...

Great series of posts Zom. It's wonderful to have this particular issue raised in such an open and honest way. Working in abstracts, I look at the skills of artists like yourself and am in awe, finding those positive projections makes all the difference. Great stuff!

Anonymous said...

Stimulating stuff. I do like the idea of finding the 'bridge'. Guess that is the key otherwise the inner critic can have a field day.