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   Welcome to my blog! I'll be posting thoughts about art, photos, happenings, and other things that strike me--and hopefully my readers--as interesting. And please visit my website by clicking the link to the right--thanks!

   Also please check out my second blog, The Painting Archives to see older (pre-2004) paintings for sale.

Sunday, April 24, 2016
  excerpt...personal voice
Photo credit: Paola Rezzonico

Jerry McLaughlin and I have reached a milestone with our book, Cold Wax Medium: Techniques, Concepts & Conversations. Between the two of us, we have now completed the writing part--13 chapters and some 80,000 words. There is still a lot editing and rearranging of information ahead of us, not to mention the initial layouts and tying up various loose ends. The whole book will be gone over by the editor and graphic designer we have hired, and there may be significant changes. But we are making real progress. As always, I give huge credit to Jerry. Without his unrelenting energy and focus we would not have come this far. 

Below is an excerpt from the chapter Inner Work, which I wrote, an introduction to the idea of personal voice in art. This is its first stage, meaning that it has not been through the editing process, so it may appear differently in the final publication. But it will give you a flavor of the more conceptual aspects of the book, which are important throughout the book. (There are also, of course, many pages devoted to technique and the more practical aspects of working with cold wax.)  

Having personal voice in art means very much the same as it does in verbal communication. Our speaking voices are individual and recognizable, yet flexible enough to allow us to explore our ideas. They are consistent, but variable within a range that others would recognize. We can shout, or whisper, or speak in a foreign language, and still sound like ourselves. Ideally, our voices are strong and convincing. Yet they also convey infinite nuances of thought and emotion. In all of these ways, the idea of voice defines what many artists seek in their work.

Finding and developing personal voice in art is an ever-evolving process. As visual language becomes more nuanced and complex, we have greater range of expression. The more developed our personal voices, the more we can say.
It is never too soon to consider bringing out your personal voice. In fact, this creative voice has been with you since very early childhood. With some reflection, you may see consistent themes in everything you have created, even from a fairly young age. When identified and nurtured, these threads of ideas will help you find ways of working that feel authentic to you. On the other hand, being too precise and exact about your direction can be inhibiting to progress. There is grace in finding a path that is open and inviting, yet bounded by what seems most important and true to your inner self.

Many artists long for some dramatic change that will lead to personal voice, an “ah-ha” moment. Although change may happen during the search for personal voice, it tends to be a complex, and often very slow process.  Change can be encouraged and welcomed, but seldom forced in any way that is authentic to the artist.  A great deal of change is the result of practice and experience in our work, and can be so incremental that we hardly realize it. Other changes happen internally, incubating below our conscious awareness. These may cause us to feel restless and impatient before making themselves known.

Finding personal voice is an ongoing process, without a definite end point. But this dynamic aspect is one of its delights. As long as you continue to work, your personal voice unfolds. Sometimes this happens below your conscious awareness. But it can also be helped along more deliberately, with setting intentions, considering your sources for ideas, and engaging in self-critique. 
(and here, the writing goes into those topics--setting intentions, considering sources of ideas, and self-critique...) If you'd like to know more about the book, please visit www.coldwaxbook.com where you can also sign up to receive notice of publication, which we expect to happen late this year. 

Congratulations Rebecca and Jerry. I am so looking forward to your book and look forward to being with you in Ballycastle later in the year. Kind regards, Mary
So beautifully written, Rebecca. Your commitment to expressing your inner voice with complete integrity shows through in your work,imbuing it with deep meaning.
thank you, Mary and Mary! and Mary M, I especially appreciate your comment about integrity, very important to me.
I can't wait to see the book! I guess it's a bit late to suggest something but I do it anyway. Maybe you can answer this in your blog. I love to paint on large canvases or boards, but the larger the harder to get the right composition. Any tips to approach and handle large paintings, specially with cold wax?
Thanks and success with your book! Is it possible to buy a signed one directly from you?
Maria, thanks very much for the suggestion. We do offer advice about a lot of related topics such as composition and visual elelments that should be helpful. What I mean is, there are bits and pices that relate to your question, though it is not specifically addresed. But I think you'll get some new ideas/approaches to help with the scale issue.

We don't plan to sell the books directly except perhaps at workshops. But we're thinking about a way to make signed copies avialable. If you haven't joined the mailing list at www.coldwaxbook.com, I sugges tyou do that and you'll hear more. Thanks!
Your beautifully expressed thoughts on personal voice and integrity resonate deeply. I am reflecting on my own personal voice as I prepare a future Artists' Lab at my studio, and your words have reminded me that the process of developing a voice takes much time and commitment. It is a force within us that is constantly evolving - and thankfully I don't feel my journey will ever be done.
Thank you, Rebecca and Jerry, for your commitment and willingness to share.
Thanks for your thoughtful message Barbara, and all best to you on your journey...
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       Rebecca Crowell