THE INSPIRATION PLACE PODCAST
Well, hello, this is your host, artist, Miriam Schulman. I am so thrilled that you’re here. Today, we’re talking all about finding your own style. So in this episode, you’ll discover, why it might be time to take off your training wheels, why it’s so hard to step into and discover your own style, and also ideas of how to get there. But before we get there, I wanted to tell you about today’s freebie. As I mentioned frequently on the show, I teach watercolor and mixed media classes online, at my class site, The Inspiration Place, if you’ve always wanted to get started painting, but don’t know where to start. Because either you don’t know what supplies you need, or maybe you’ve been painting for a while, but you’re curious about, “What supplies I like to use, am I mixed media and watercolor art?” Well, then you’re going to like this freebie.
For the month of June, I’ve been sharing lots of free videos over my Facebook page about mixed media. So I want to share with you my supply list for mixed media to help get you started. You can grab that over on schulmanart.com/supplylist. By the way, if you want to watch those free mix media videos, be sure to check them out over on my Facebook page. My Facebook page and all my social media handles are @schulmanart. That’s Schulman with a C, and for this mixed media playlist, you can start watching them immediately. I made a nice little link for you to find them, it’s schulmanart.com/mixitup. While you’re there, you want to make sure you watch the quick demo of my mixed media sunflower painting, as well as four ideas of what to put on top of collage backgrounds. I know I’ve thrown a lot of links at you.
So if you’re listening in your car, you can always just go to the show notes over on schulmanart.com/style. But first, I want to share with you a personal story. When I was a kid, I was never terribly athletic, and that was true, whether it was roller skating or learning how to ride a bike. And that was pretty bad, I was horrible. Don’t worry, this story is totally related to art, just stick with me here. It took me a long time to learn how to ride my bike. It was actually really embarrassing, I had my training wheels on for very long. Honestly, I constantly had skinned knees, because the truth was I could not figure out how to brake. So the only way I knew how to stop was to crash into the bushes. That was when we lived in Florida, where everything was nice and flat.
However, when we moved to Georgia, to the Atlanta area, there are a lot more Hills. It didn’t take long after we moved there that I got actually into a really serious bike accident. And I mean serious. So I actually cracked my jaw. That meant that I had to drink all my food through a straw. This is way before smoothies, by the way. So I was definitely the weird girl who couldn’t talk, drinking my food through a straw. So, as an adult, and looking back, what I realized my problem was, was that I kept the training wheels on too long. It was like my body thought it knew how to ride a bike, but when it was time to do it by myself, without the training wheels, I really had no clue what to do.
This is what I see a lot of people struggling with around art. They watch free YouTube videos, or they go to paint and sip parties, or some of the paid courses. But the problem, what I’ve seen out there, is that with some of these things, they teach you how to do a project. So this is definitely true of the paint and sip parties, and sometimes true with those other things I mentioned. So it’s how to copy a teacher’s project. They show you the steps to make the exact thing in the exact same way they did it. So when it comes time to create something new for yourself, you have absolutely no idea what to do. And that’s why in the best art classes out there, like my classes, I teach you the process so that you can apply that process to a whole variety of unique projects.
I teach the methods and the techniques to create different effects. So you can choose which ones to use and which ones you like in order to create your future projects. Don’t worry, with my classes we also start with the training wheels on, for those of you who need them, but then we take them off and turn you loose with new challengers. So you really come away from my classes, knowing how to create your own mixed media or watercolor, whatever it happens to be, projects.
Now, back to bike riding. Now, I remember when my own kids were learning how to ride their bikes. I’d watch my husband run behind them, but when it came time to take them off and learn how to ride a two Wheeler by themselves, my husband would hold on to the back of the bike gripping for dear life. My poor husband, he was running behind them, holding onto their seat and their handlebar, which really hurt his back. And after a few weeks of watching him try to teach them how to do this, I took over. I just took my kids outside, I gave them a push and I let go. And I said, “Okay, just keep paddling.” And of course, they fell a few times, but even on those first few tries, they went far enough to see that they could do it on their own. That is the experience that I want you to have when you take an art class, I don’t want you to keep your training wheels on so long.
So if you’re in that position, where you feel like you’re just copying other people’s projects and developing a codependency on having someone else to copy, but never learning to do your own thing, then I want to invite you try a new approach. In my many years of working as a professional artist, I found that the best way to develop your own voice as an artist is to really understand the process behind how to create art.
So if you feel stuck because you’re afraid of getting started, if you’re ready to learn an exciting new medium, that will spark creativity and joy in your art, and if you’ve abandoned your creative side for too long, but feel ready to enter a more creative phase in your life, then I want to invite you to a free master class where I’ll be sharing the 10 essential techniques to learn mixed media art. These 10 methods can be used to mix and match to create harmonious mixed media art in your own style. You’ll also get to watch a video demonstration of a crucial technique that I use for all my floral art. Want to sign up? The master class is free, and since it’s live, you’ll be able to ask questions. Space is limited, so be sure to register to save your spot. This particular class is being offered in June of 2019, but you can go to that link and see if I have a different free master class available. Just go to schulmanart.com/masterclass, enter your name and email on the next screen, and I can’t wait to see you on the other side.
All right. I want to talk a little bit more about another reason why people struggle their own style. So the big reason we just covered, first is the training wheels, being on too long. But there are other reasons why people struggle with developing their own style. I see this even when people don’t think they have a problem, but I can look at their art and I can tell immediately whose classes they’ve taken. Now, this isn’t necessarily a problem, because like I’ve said before in this podcast, there absolutely is a time and place to copy, and all artists have done that throughout time. Degas used to copy Rembrandt, Michelangelo used to copy The Greeks. So it’s definitely a way to learn.
However, I know it can be really annoying to look at your artwork and realize that each piece looks like it was done by a different person. And this can be more of a problem for those of you out there who do want to get more serious. You can’t take your work to an art gallery if you don’t have a cohesive portfolio. And if you’re trying to sell it on any marketplace, whether that’s online or in-person, you really need to have all the artwork look like it’s done by the same person. So when my students ask, how do I create my own style, I tell them it’s not about creating your own style, it’s about uncovering what’s already there, buried deep inside. I truly believe everyone already has their own style, they just don’t know what it is yet.
Now, here’s the thing that makes this uncovering so difficult. Most of us have spent our entire lives putting ourselves on the back burner, which means we’ve never spent any time uncovering any parts of ourselves, let alone our painting style. Think about it, if you’ve always been the person nurturing everyone else, or if you focused on your career, or building your family, you’ve been putting energy into other people, helping them succeed, helping them grow as human beings and chase after their own dreams. And you may not have done any of that for yourself, which may mean you really don’t know yourself anymore, or never found out who you were, to begin with. There does come a point in people’s lives where they start doing the self development work, and often it feels like starting from scratch. “Who am I, and what do I want?”
But the cool thing is once you start to uncover who you are now, what brings you joy, what you won’t tolerate anymore, what truly matters to you, that is when your unique style starts to show through in your artwork as well. Isn’t it great the way art can help you with your self development and vice versa? I believe that painting should be a joyful process. And when you really start exploring and discovering what you love about that process, you’ll start making certain decisions that enhances that joy.
For example, you may be drawn to certain colors because how they make you feel, or you’ll start to have fun with wonky lines because you get impatient with precise details, or you’ll realize you want to put polka dots and everything because you like them. Finding your own style is very similar to the process we all went through as adolescents, trying to find our own style.
Now, I know some of you might be shaking your heads that you still don’t have your odes dial in the way you dress. But let’s talk about discovering your own style when you were growing up too. I came of age in the 80s, so I had some really interesting trends to play with. In seventh grade, I went through the phase that I call my preppy handbook phase. The key was to look like you belonged at a country club.
And I had the pop gallopers with the changeable covers. I even sowed a few myself on my mother’s [inaudible 00:13:07], and I remember asking for an adobe necklace for my birthday. Yes, I definitely owned a white turtleneck with blue whales on it. I would not be caught dead with any of those things right now.
[Ditto 00:13:19] for the flash dance phase I went through in ninth grade with the sweatshirts, with the shoulders cut off. And shortly after that, I started to wear scarves every day because I started to say that was my thing, which really, I copied from modern dancer, Isadora Duncan. By the way, this is still related to painting, I totally promise. Then in 10th grade, was my Madonna phase. I had these black rubber bracelets. They were weird, ugly industrial things that looked like laundry machine parts. And the idea was to put 20 in each arm and scrunch your hair with a lot of moose.
And on 11th grade, I remember dying my hair red, Ala Molly Ringwald, or Cyndi Lauper. It was a very confusing time. The problem was basically a clash between Dynasty and Princess Diana. I had a Royal blue taffeta masterpiece that actually was a bridesmaid sample dress. This whole, finding my own style thing didn’t end when I graduated high school, and it became a quest throughout my 20s and 30s. And if I’m perfectly honest, it did continue throughout my 40s. Even up until recently, I was still emulating The Real Housewives of New York City. And sometimes when I watch that show, I’m Googling the outfits that they’re wearing.
But when I would go to a PTA meeting, I always felt like I was wearing the wrong thing, no matter what I did. I just did not understand what expensive casual looked like that the other moms nailed so effortlessly. But now that I’m in my 50s, it’s actually a different story, because the truth is I really don’t care. I’m done copying other people’s styles and calling it my own. If I like it and I feel comfortable wearing it, then it’s the perfect thing to wear. I don’t need to wear a uniform or look like the other people around me. I’m happy to look different. And I found it’s the same thing with art. If I’m happy with my process, if I’m enjoying the work part of the artwork, then it doesn’t matter how my art looks compared to other people’s.
So, I want to invite you to think the same way about your art. If you’re happy with the process, the end result will follow. And again, that’s why in my classes, I always emphasize the process rather than the end result. Okay. I know today was a huge topic, there’s definitely a clear strategy to get to the end of all this. If you want to get better creatively, and this is true, whether your craft is art, or writing, or music, or business, or something else, you need to focus on techniques and fundamentals rather than copying projects or other people’s styles.
Sure, it’s a lot of fun to copy, that’s why those paint and sip parties are so popular. But if you really want to learn in a way so that you can develop your own style, then you need to focus on learning techniques and strategies so that you can mix and match them and create something that is truly yours.
All right, that’s all I got for you today. I would love to hear from you about what you think. Send me an email, direct message, comment on the blog, or better yet, leave a review on iTunes. You’ll find the show notes for today over at schulmanart.com/style. By the way, if you’re not subscribed to my podcast, I want to encourage you to do that right away, like this minute. In a few weeks, my husband, Ron, is coming on the show so we can share with you about our journey of creating and publishing a poetry and art book. It’s his poems with my art, and my marketing.
Now, if you want to subscribe and you have an Apple device, the easiest thing to do is hit that purple subscribe button. If you don’t see the word subscribe, and it’s three dots, that means you’re already subscribed and you’re good to go. If you’re on another device, like Android, they have devices for subscribing over there as well, Google Play, or Stitcher, Spotify, I’m on all of them, all the podcasts directories. And if you’re feeling extra loving, I’d love a review over on iTunes. I don’t know how it works on the other platforms, but on iTunes, if you search for my show, you just scroll down, click right or if you hit the five stars, if you feel that way and say something nice about the show. I always give shout outs on Instagram to artists who leave reviews, if you drop your Instagram handle into the review.
All right, guys, thanks so much for being with me here today. I will see you same time, same place, next week. Make it a great one. Bye for now.
Don’t forget, today’s episode was sponsored by my free master class, it’ll get you started in mixed media art, or if you’ve already started that art adventure, you’ll learn the 10 essential techniques that you must know. Just go to schulmanart.com/masterclass, enter your name and email, and we’ll send you a link to the free master class.
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