So what is your story?

So what is your story?

“So, what is your story?” The teacher asked. “What message do you want to convey to the viewer with your work?” During my time at the art academy, I was asked this question several times. It came to a point that I really started to get annoyed with people asking the question because I did not have an answer to it. I didn’t really know and I found that very frustrating.
I knew I was drawn to certain types of art but didn’t really understand why this was the case.

Only when I started to compare the works of the different artists it became clearer to me what it was that I liked. At the same time it was confusing as my own work did not really look like the art of my favorites a lot. So what was it that I wanted to portray? What would make my art true to me?

Stuck … what now?

I started studying at the art academy because I wanted to develop new artistic skills. As a child I had loved to draw and later on in my teenage years I developed the skill of painting. I liked to draw portraits of people, but after some years I became bored with it. I felt that I was repeating more and more of the same. Eventually I started to paint less and less.

Strange art teachers…

So then I applied to the Free Academy in The Hague. I knew for sure that if I wanted to grow towards becoming a better artist, I would have to get some serious training on an academic level. I did not understand much about the concept of art in the first few years. How the teachers talked about art was at first confusing to me. When I though someone’s art was poor they usually said it was really good and I felt that someone had done a great job, the teachers would often judge it to be poor or really bad art. I thought that was really strange and I couldn’t understand it.

What message is behind it?

But gradually I began to discover what it was that they were looking for.  They were looking for the conveyed message behind the artwork and the way in which the artist had made use of  his or her materials. If the message was clear, and if the artist had very consciously chosen for his material use and technique and thereby achieved a certain effect, then it was considered to be ‘good’. It didn’t matter whether it was aesthetically beautiful or not. It point was if the art matched the intended message and also conveyed craftsmanship.

How about my story?

In the years at the Art Academy Haarlem Leiden I started to search for my own story in arts. Something really clicked when a teacher advised me to be myself instead than looking to find the answer elsewhere. I went back to look at the many photographs that I had taken over the years. I had always been quite obsessive in photographing patterns.  I would take picture of flowers, ornaments, architecture and more. I understood that I had found my individuality in this. I loved patterns but I hadn’t really used them in my art. With some help from my teacher, I discovered new creative ways to express myself. Suddenly I had become unstuck in the way that I had been stuck many years before. I had now found at least an important part of my own story!


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