I am a storyteller

Day 6 of the twelve days of Christmas writing challenge (days, 3-5 filed elsewhere for a while)

I am a storyteller, as are all artists.

Some tell stories of what they imagine.
Others tell stories of where they’ve been, or how they feel.
Artists in academia tell stories that have footnotes [1]

Like many of my contemporaries, I tell stories about what I see. I tell visual stories about the sheep and wool industries of rural Australia, although I also have more personal stories to tell as well.

I tell those stories using a particular visual language that include my choice of media, how I use perspective and colour as well as other tricks and techniques I’ve learnt over the years.

I didn’t always make artwork the way I do now. In the beginning my paintings were clumsy. I wasn’t sure how, why or even what I liked making artwork about.

Looking back I compare it to those first few years of primary school learning to read, or how I imagine it would be as an emigrant needing Australian as a working language, or being a student studying a second language.

Developing fluency in any new language needs time and practice. Not doing time as in hard labour, but spending time. Time in the studio, at the easel.Starting a painting, working through it, finishing it. Then doing it all again. And again. And again. Until its no longer about the mechanics of putting the paint down. It’s about the ebb and flow of a whole series of artworks that becomes less about practising and more about the development of an art practice.

Post-Modern theories of authorship and originality aside, and disregarding the implications of commerce and fashion, I believe that an artist’s success depends on the authenticity of their visual language.

By all means, have mentors, copy masters, read books, watch you-tube. But there is a point when we need to step away from the screen. We need to learn how to speak without mimicry and write without copying.

We owe it to ourselves, and our story, to be the best storyteller we can. To that end, we need to use the most effective language possible.

And the only way to get good at a new language is to speak it.

Every. Single. Day.

[1] literally