In search of the elusive ‘Voice’

Oil Studies –

In preparation for any project, before committing to canvas or board, initial studies and sketches, using alternative mediums or methods are a common tool to help an artist consider a subject in more depth. This can help develop ideas and to liberate process, keeping the work fresh and engaging, without restrictions of expectation, minimising storage space and material costs.

However, by providing yourself a brief – limiting the palette, working to an unfamiliar scale or using large brushes – perspectives and ideas are examined in preparation for a new body of work. These are just a few of the ways to help develop technique.

It requires patience to search for your own expression or interpretation and although this may seem indulgent, encourages new observations which helps the work advance and valuable lessons are learned in the process. There are countless ways to approach a new idea and as a consequence not many artists achieve early nights or sleep in late!

Although the journey is frequently frustrating, examination of a subject demands this inquiry and perseverance. At times what first appears a failure reaps unexpected rewards, but not in every case.

Drawers of half completed work, not deemed worthy of further appraisal, are hidden away or even destroyed, never to be viewed – necessary at the time but no longer relevant.

As Andrew strives to further expand the abstract in an image and with several studies in mind, a considerable body of these sketches are accumulating and so an edit is looming.

Before being relegated to history, here are a couple of saved examples. We hope these might look interesting ‘tipped on’ behind glass.

Oil Sketch on Paper 01
Oil Sketch on Paper 01
Oil Sketch on Paper 02
Oil Sketch on Paper 02

Until established as a mainstream name or brand, in commercial art, many Gallerists and Collectors expect an artist to have a distinct ‘Voice’. Be that simply in the chosen subject matter, choice of medium or, less tangibly, in the work of the “artists’ hand”. This can be a problem and somewhat elusive when an artist is experimenting and is naturally inquisitive. Andrew is mindful of this – within reason!

If the original objectives are not realised, that isn’t necessarily always the point. The question of how to communicate your own vocabulary in any arts discipline, becomes an obsession to learn and better understand, which means the work will inevitably evolve.  The execution is hopefully a useful exercise and achieves some aesthetic value.

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© AB Holmes 2014.  All Rights Reserved.


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Artist and Illustrator