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Why I gave up trying to homogenise my work

Updated: Apr 13, 2022

A few weeks ago, I found myself in an all too familiar conversation with my masters supervisor, one that we have had repeatedly (and one that I'm sure she's sick of having with me). It's a new academic year and I'm still stuck on this idea of ‘homogenising’ my work. By that I mean to somehow blend it all together stylistically. Ever since I started painting and drawing I've made a random mix of delicate pencil drawings, lazy line drawings, psychedelic watercolours, figurative and representational stuff, abstracted stuff, thick clunky paintings, crappy craft projects, - basically I want(ed) my work to look like it was all made by the same person. I've stressed over this since way before I started studying art - how do I explain or describe my art style and objectives? how the fuck do I write an artist's statement?


I thought for a while that I would start with my core themes.

There are clues in my drawings, I tried to tease them out through automatic drawing exercises and allowing myself to repeat the surrealist archetypes that I’ve carried around with me since I was a teenager, Trees and distorted bodies, but this doesn’t give me any new information. Having found clarity in being able to summarise that I make work about embodiment and notions of place and entanglement, and that I'm interested in themes like feminism, gender, magic realism, dualism and stuff.. I still feel that finding words to describe my content doesn't really help me in the studio. I still use my hands differently depending on how I'm feeling each day and I can't 'decide' which style is going to be the one I will stick with.


I was cringing at myself complaining yet again to Yu Fang that I was struggling with my work. I was about half way through 'everything changes, everything stays the same' and feeling that it was incohesive.


With a painting that is worked on in stages, I feel like each part comes from a different set of hands, there sections that hesitate, are impatient and confident, and parts that are slow and steady. That incohesiveness might be one of my only consistencies.


Alm


ost immediately after I had that conversation with Yu Fang, I left for work and switched out of art student mode, and into my role as a host for corporate team building events. The next day I went to my regular job at a kids art studio, and that weekend I went to two events, for one I was a dominatrix, the other was a party where I spent a considerable amount of time in goblin mode. I nursed my hangover and worked privately in the garden, tended to my partner and by the time I finished the painting I was considering how many people I had been over the past week and how each of those people knew nothing about the other. There are many reasons why they can never meet. I felt like my big painting. In a big painting like 'everything changes, everything stays the same', the layers are separate from each other because I am new everytime I return to the studio. This is the same for each smaller separate work. I have seen a correlation in the different personalities each of my small works have, with the different sections in the larger paintings. Maybe they're not as incohesive as I originally thought.


How can I expect homogenisation in my work when I refuse it in my life? This is more of an answer than a question.

Making monochromatic paintings and drawings to tease out common themes in work that I thought was incohesive

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