Greek Man with Scarf
pastel on paper, Ann Rudd
Being yourself, what a great concept.
And one of my all-time favorite topics.
The other day I had an epiphany, or at least minor personal insight, about this concept, and the "how to" of being you.
I was thinking about art, about "artistic voice," and realized something: When I first started painting 10 years ago, people said they could recognize my style ("soft, atmospheric.") That seemed interesting, because I wasn't trying to have a style, I was just trying to learn how to paint. So yada yada, years go by.
I've noticed this: When I grab a brush and set out to paint a soft painting, because that's "my style," they come out too soft and mushy. BUT, when I grab brush and set out to experiment and/or to just paint what I SEE, including darks, lights, contrasts, colors, they come out surprisingly soft and atmospheric, they feel like they're mine; these are generally the best ones. They have some drama and some softness.
One example, above: The Greek Man drawing of Constantine Maroulis was a quick exercise I did one Sunday night around midnight, when I grabbed some pastels and felt like practicing portrait-drawing, trying to capture a face from a photo; I think it turned out, it's what I saw. Also, below: Work in Progress, I was playing with collage and painted the bunch of brushes sitting in front of me, painted what I saw, later won an award for it, how nice!
So I'm on a quest this spring to test out that theory, to not think about it too much, just paint what I see.
My conclusion: A key point is to not TRY being yourself, but just BE yourself, and the style is there.
I googled to see what great minds and wise people have said about Being Yourself, and here are some ideas to consider: In reading through these, I'm struck that such a struggle occurs with the simple attempt to be oneself. If anyone reading has additional insights or suggestions, things you have learned, please comment!
Individualism is rather like innocence: There must be something unconscious about it. ~Louis Kronenberger
God has given you one face, and you make yourself another. ~William Shakespeare
To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. ~e.e. cummings, 1955
Originality is... a by-product of sincerity. ~Marianne Moore
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. ~Dr. Seuss
Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for the truth. ~Benjamin Disraeli
I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. ~Ralph Ellison
The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another. ~James Matthew Barrie
Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation. ~Oscar Wilde
It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. ~e.e. cummings
Almost every man wastes part of his life in attempts to display qualities which he does not possess, and to gain applause which he cannot keep. ~Samuel Johnson
The fellow that can only see a week ahead is always the popular fellow, for he is looking with the crowd. But the one that can see years ahead, he has a telescope but he can't make anybody believe that he has it.~Will Smith
Be yourself. The world worships the original. ~Ingrid Bergman
Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. ~C.S. Lewis
I always try to improve, to find new ways of expressing myself, to keep looking for truth and originality. ~Burt Lancaster
There lurks, perhaps, in every human heart a desire of distinction, which inclines every man first to hope, and then to believe, that Nature has given him something peculiar to himself. ~Samuel Johnson
You must have control of the authorship of your own destiny. The pen that writes your life story must be held in your own hand. ~Irene C. Kassorla
You were born an original. Don't die a copy. ~John Mason
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. ~Psalm 139:14
At bottom every man knows well enough that he is a unique being, only once on this earth; and by no extraordinary chance will such a marvelously picturesque piece of diversity in unity as he is, ever be t together a second time. ~Friedrich Nietzsche
Work in Progress
Mixed media, Ann Rudd