The fifteenth, and next to last, principle in Ian Robert's book Creative Authenticity is entitled "Finding poetry in the everyday." This is about finding our own "voice" as an artist, or addressing the issue of our personal poetry. Roberts extends this thought to define art in terms of a poetic expression. The work of our good friend Mark Sheeky (http://marksheeky.blogspot.com/) is a good example of an artist who is both a poet and painter (and musician, I might add). However, Roberts isn't referring to written poetry. By poetry, he means the vision of the artist.
During the past few months I've frequently posted this idea in many forms, so I won't beat a dead horse today. However, I will include these words from the text: The essence of this whole artistic enterprise is to focus your attention on what caught your attention in the first place. Respond to what is yours. Your truth... You must strip the thing back to the basics of what you feel about your response ... Get to the foundation and then build it back up.
As you know, I agree with this viewpoint and try to discourage derivative work that is copied or appropriated from another. There's only one way to be unique and meaningful in art, and that's to express your own ideas and feelings. But, getting in touch with oneself means investing in spending time with one's own thoughts. I do this by asking myself very basic questions that almost always start with the word "why." Why do I like that? Why do I keep staring at that? Why does that make me feel happy, sad, angry? Why can't I stop thinking about that? and so on. Be your own Grand Inquisitor. Get to the heart of who you are - that's where you'll find your inner voice.
Over a decade ago, when I decided to learn watercolor painting after formal training as an oil painter, I attended a week-long workshop. It was expensive! The first three days of the workshop I couldn't get my instructor to pay much attention to my work or even give it a substantive critique. He spent lots of time with the other students but kept glancing at my work and passing by. On the fourth day I became a little angry because I needed input and because I felt like I'd just wasted my time and money. So, I politely asked the instructor why he wasn't commenting on my work. His response was "I don't need to. You already know how to paint, you just haven't found your voice and I can't do that for you." Well - a lightbulb went off in my head! All those college art courses and no one had ever mentioned this to me.
So, I went home and began thinking "how" do I find my voice? How does anyone do that? After a few years of fits and starts it dawned on me that my work was imitative because I lacked confidence in my own ideas and feelings. Once I realized that, I quickly got over it. Of course, it's an endless journey because my thoughts and feelings change with age and experience. So, the questions and answers to who I am never cease. But, doesn't that make things interesting??