How did you find your artistic voice?

I've gotten several emails asking me how I found my voice as an artist, and I'm always shocked because in many ways I feel like I still haven't. My work right now is fluid and geometric but it wasn't always like this, and I don't expect it to stay like this either. To remove the mystery, and show that I am indeed all over the place, I thought it would be fun to take a deep dive into my portfolio. 

I've been painting my whole life, but my first experience of putting my art into the public was in high school (way back in 2006). I was in charge of the painting crew for our theatre department, and in addition to painting sets, I painted school-bus-sized marquees announcing the latest plays. I loved lettering, I loved working BIG, and I loved the detail. 

In college (2009-2013)  as I was finishing my B.S. in chemistry, I took several figure drawing classes. I was so drawn to it because by studying the body, it helped me figure out my own. I was so inspired by Jason Polan, and loved to draw people I encountered every day. I played around with realistic & cartoonish styles, and this helped me to be more aware of patterns, textures, and shapes that I took for granted in my daily life. 

In grad school (2013 - 2015) as I was finishing my M.S. in environmental science (and experiencing a major existential crisis) I started painting in an abstract style. It was the only way to capture my feelings of utter confusion, and the racing thoughts about what I really wanted to do with my life. As someone who was notoriously quiet and timid, my work was was energetic, bold, and chaotic. I really didn't care if it was pretty, or if anyone on earth would buy it - I did this for me. 

I started adding intricate patterns as I approached graduation, because the meditative nature of the process was calming my nerves. I was trying to decide if I should take the leap and paint full time, or get a normal, safe job. Everyone around me was getting jobs working in labs, or teaching, or continuing on to get PhD's, and I was restlessly painting in my apartment trying to get my shop off the ground. I felt like the world was rolling their eyes at me, but I was so happy in the process. 

"Candy" acrylic & ink on paper. Prints available here.

"Candy" acrylic & ink on paper. Prints available here.

"Give me all your love" 12"x18" mixed media. Purchase the original here or prints here. 

"Give me all your love" 12"x18" mixed media. Purchase the original here or prints here

My most recent work focuses on free-flowing color with geometric details. At 25, I find that everyone expects me to be an adult, but I don't have enough "experience" to really "do" anything. So, what am I worth? My artwork right now is a reflection of my struggle with that question. The fluid color says yes! I'm free to make my own choices! But don't forget, you're still confined to this geometric cage. 

"She has a lot to say" - Find prints here.

"She has a lot to say" - Find prints here.

I don't know how long I'll stick with this style, or where I'll take it from here. I hope this post was helpful and at least showed you that no, I didn't hit the ground running. I worked through several styles, but my voice has always been there throughout the process. I use my artwork to understand the world around me, and express myself in a way that words just fail to do.

I think the key to finding your voice is to stop worrying about what the end result looks like, or if anyone will like it, and focus on why you're doing it in the first place. Once you grab a hold of why, your voice will be loud and clear. 

I would love to hear your thoughts on this! If you're an artist, how have you found your voice? What styles have you worked in over the years?