Guest blogger series | Finding your creative voice

by Admin on 25/10/2011

in Art+Design, Guest blog series2 2011, Quilting

Victoria Gertenbach is textile artist living in Lancaster County, PA. where her story continues to unfold. To learn more please visit her blog.

Finding Your Creative Voice

Hello Everyone! I’m Victoria from the Silly BooDilly, and I am delighted to be filling in for Kathreen today as one of her guest bloggers while she is on vacation.

When Kathreen first asked me if I would do a guest blog post, I wasn’t sure what I would write about it. So, I started thinking about various topics which are important to me in regards to creativity, and that led me to the topic of finding one’s true creative voice, something I feel very strongly about.

"Work Quilt #1" 2010. Inspired by the surrounding farmland where I live, as well as old patched utilitarian quilts.

It’s common for most of us, when first learning a new craft, to look around at what others are doing. In fact it’s usually seeing what someone else is doing that first sparks our desire to learn about a certain subject. The next obvious step is to try and recreate something similar in look and style to whose ever work it is that we admire. And if we can find any how-to’s provided by them, books featuring them, or take a class taught by them, all the more wonderful, for this helps us learn about process, techniques, and methods.

But too often, (in my personal opinion) folks can easily get stuck in this apprentice stage, embracing and taking on the style of the teacher/influencer to such a degree that they forget to move forward into the next stage, which is where one takes the technical information that they have learned and figures out how to apply that information to express something that can only come from their own unique perspective, which is how true art is born.

So, how does someone find their own creative voice? Well, I think one of the best pieces of advice that I have ever heard about this topic was in regards to writers. You probably have heard it too, at some point…

“If you wish to be a good writer, write about what you know.”

I would suggest that the same holds true for the visual arts. Create what you know. Create what you care about. Create what you are drawn to. Create what you resonate with. Create what you love.

If you follow your heart it will lead you to your soul.

"Barn Door" 2011. Inspired by the beautiful worn and weathered old white barns near where I live.

Start paying attention to what in your environment makes your heart skip a beat. What do you find yourself looking at, photographing, collecting, thinking about? And ask yourself, “why?” Why do you like what you do? Break it down… for example, if you find yourself photographing close up shots of flowers and insects, ask yourself what it is that attracts you to them… is it that you love the relationship between the two? Their colors? Their shapes? If you have a collection of found bird nests on your mantle and artwork of eggs and feathers hanging around your home, ask yourself why… do you like the freedom that birds seem to have? Are you attracted to their ability to weave a nest, (I know I am). Is there something about the shape and/or color of their eggs that lifts your spirit? These types of questions can help you define what it is that you want to explore and express in your art.

Remnants #5 and #4, 2010. Inspired by the lines and shapes found in the old farms near where I live.

If you are attracted to architecture, (as I am) ask yourself, what style of architecture you are drawn to, and what aspects about that style are you most drawn to? And for the record, don’t be surprised if you find yourself drawn to more than one type, even if those types seem to be completely different. (This just proves that you are multi-dimensional!) I for one am very drawn to mid-century design for it’s clean esthetics and use of line. For me it represents order and simplicity, the ability to say more with less. However, I am also extremely drawn to old farm structures, primarily for their worn exterior with peeling paint, their holes and broken windows, their patched and mended areas and their wonderful odd lines and off kilter shapes. For me they represent quiet beauty, endurance, an undying strength of spirit and a life well lived. I also daydream about owning a darling little beach cottage one day, as I love the seaside and associate it with true bliss. And last but not least I have a real attraction to cute vintage trailers as I associate them with one of my favorite childhood books, “The Boxcar Children” which sent my 8 year old self day-dreaming of young independence found in the act of setting up housekeeping in a small place of one’s very own.

Embroidered Miniature Houses, 2011. Inspired by my attraction to little beach cottages and small retro trailers.

Regardless of how many different architectural structures I am attracted to, I know that each one holds something personal for me, and that’s the key…

As soon as you start to examine what truly resonates with you, and figure out why it pulls at you, you will begin to create your own personal foundation that you can then build upon with a body of work that reflects you as an creative individual.

Everybody has a story to tell. What’s yours?

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dace October 25, 2011 at 5:57 am

Thank you for your thoughtful essay on finding your/my creative self so beautifully illustrated. Its got me really thinking…


2 amy October 25, 2011 at 8:01 am

I often think it’s just as well I’m self-taught in a lot of things–it lets you be free to explore, since you don’t know the “right” way. And I’m always puzzled by books/mags that are discussing really interesting (to me) techniques but then show you how to take this creative method and replicate someone else’s project exactly. Why would I want to do that?! I want to take the new technique I’ve learned and run with it! Now to find the time… :)

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and the pictures of your artwork. Your quilts are lovely and so evocative of the places you love.


3 Delica October 25, 2011 at 11:55 am

This was a great post. Thank you for addressing the creative process and artistic inspiration. It’s made me wonder how can I get back to my creative voice.


4 sampling October 25, 2011 at 9:24 pm

I just LOVE that ‘barn door’ quilt and am rather partial to images of doors!


5 Isobel October 26, 2011 at 10:42 am

This is just what I needed to read – thank you!


6 Lisa October 28, 2011 at 10:39 am

LOVE your work and your words – thank you!


7 Marty Mason November 2, 2011 at 7:21 am

You are such an inspiration…..Just what I need this morning to get my bun out of the closed wrapper and into the fire!


8 blandina November 6, 2011 at 4:23 am

Oh, Victoria, you are such an inspiration!


9 Karen November 7, 2011 at 12:58 am

This is a lot of food for thought. Thank you.


10 Cherie Livni November 12, 2011 at 2:54 am

Loved your perspective on the creative process!! I feel I’m on the right path after I read that. I’ve spent the last 2 years learning and looking at quilting techniques, artists and trying things out. I’ve now started to try and interpretate a favorite photo I took on a trip 25 years ago with my now husband. The photo means so much it is just crying out to be reproduced in fabric! I hope I succeed!


11 Pam November 12, 2011 at 11:28 am

Words of wisdom to be sure. Everyone should take the time to see what resonates with them, as they will have a much easier time finding both inspiration and creativity. Not to mention the joy of creating something personal and unique! :) Gorgeous projects, thanks for sharing.


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