* Chapter 9 – The Human Voice

Audio Version of the Chapters is Here.

“Computers are useless – all they can give you are answers.” – Pablo Picasso

Picasso never used an iPad now did he?

Thinking about the human voice, one of the things I hope you all have taken from the voice within this book is that there are questions we share as artists, there are challenges we share as artists, there are opportunities we share as artists – take comfort in knowing you are not the only one, then move beyond it and figure out how to create your art.

Discovering how to create your own art isn’t easy.  As an art teacher I would like to say that I can tell you where to find your path, I can’t.  What I can do is give you experiences.  How you choose to utilize the information discovered through those experiences is all on you.  Whether you are getting assignments from Mr. Korb or me, know that the instructions are only the beginning of the journey – think about a time when you sat in class and were amazed at how different each student’s response was to the same impetus – this is you figuring out how to create your art.  I am always excited when I watch a student taking the A, B, and C given to them and instead of coming back with the obvious D and E they give me X and Y… On the same note though I explain to students on a daily basis why I can not give them an idea because we come from different places and what I would be passionate about is not going to relate to them.  As has been said throughout this book you can only create your work, so create it.

On page 116:  Subjects that draw us in will continue to draw us in.  Patterns we respond to we will continue to respond to.  We are compelled by forces that, like the ocean current, are so subtle and pervasive we take them utterly for granted… We tell the stories we have to tell, stories of the things that draw us in… The only work really worth doing – the only work you can do convincingly – is the work that focuses on the things you care about.

Beth Schlieger – Artist


41 Replies to “* Chapter 9 – The Human Voice”

  1. To say art has changed through the years would probably be incorrect. Yeah you can say that a painting compared to a urinal with a signature on it are completely different. Techniques, styles, and subjects change but the point of art is expression. The point of expression never changes because artists create their works to combat different subjects but every work is made to express at the very least feelings. When I was a kid I thought that to be an artist you had to be proficient in all aspects of 2-D work. I was not really exposed to 3-D art as much as I had been during my years in high school. All the classes I took helped me realize that as long as I was happy with what I was creating, it was art to me.

  2. Being an Artist is not what it used to be. As we get older and older we start to realize that being an artist is not enough anymore and we need to reach for a more stable activity to make money and thrive. There are so many artists out there now that the odds of you getting to make hundreds upon hundreds of dollars selling art is the same as winning the lottery. Art then becomes a hobby and sometimes even an activity you don’t pick up until retirement. The current world does not have the time to make art.

    1. Dude, I want to make bank in a career too, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be in art. Everyone knows artists dont make alot of money, you gotta let that go. Anyways, I do agree with you on some points like when you say, “the current world does not have time to make art”. I dont know how you interpret that, but I think of it as how people would rather work a random 9-5 job to make a good amount of money instead of make art. The task of making art and trying to intellectually better yourself can get easily lost. Thats what I think makes art look so pathetic at times. The value of art is lost when some random guy wants to call himself an artist just to put a pile of candy in a corner in a muesuem. Whenever a random adult says “thats dumb, I could do that” a little bit of integrity in art is lost. No one wants to make time to appriciate the amazing art of people like Monet or Degas when there are people like Rothko or de Kooning make somthing embarassingly ‘abstract’. That demotivates the unprofessional art viewers into wanting to find a meaningful interpretation of an artwork. Its like throwing a cheerleader into a dance team, sure the cheerleader knows some of the tricks, but wont be any use to the team if they were never explained the dance.

  3. My art changes a lot. It’s gone through many different styles and transformations through the use and type of materials, subject matter, etc. The author does make a point about how making art should have a deep connection, but I don’t think it always needs to have a deep connection. A lot of time, it can be anything from doodling to making fanart for other people to enjoy, which doesn’t always have a really deep meaning or connection. Art doesn’t have to be this stereotypical, meaningful work – it can be fun and meaningless, allowing the artist to just create things to make something.

  4. Over the years I’ve taken a lot of art classes even pushed myself to take 3d classes, which I hate doing, i guess in a sort of way I’m limiting myself and i want to expanding on my art. but for me the best part of art is making mistakes because there’s only two outcomes you either hate it or you like it. i think that’s the worst part is that i like making mistakes but when i have only so limited time to do a project i want to make sure it gets done and it looks great than taking a risk. I would love to just be able to take a week just to pay around. i guess another issue i have is that i don’t know who i am as an artist yet because I’m going in so many directions with my art looking back from just the start of the school year i never saw myself doing what i am doing but the hardest part for me that anyone could do what i am doing that there’s no real talent to it.

    1. I disagree in that you feel anyone could do it. This is just a beginning of a skill set that you are developing. Part of what you may struggle with is the research and planning. It all doesn’t just come out of the mind like water out of a faucet. Plans are needed, sketches, additional work, and research.

  5. The part I enjoyed the most out of this chapter was when he said art is hard. It is simple and true. Art is such a complicated idea. You have to constantly make art that shows who you are as a person. Everyone has their own voice. Even when we have to draw a book for example in a drawing class, we all look at the same look, we all get different results. I feel the most difficult thing to do is not finding your voice, but following your voice. I tend to see artists who will create art that doesn’t represent them, their voice, or style. I am guilty of doing this in cases where I find a new artist and then start trying their style. However, the only voice I can follow is my own. Art is hard. It is hard to continue with little to no reward like the author mentioned. I am glad that I have art teachers and art friends who support me and go through the same thing.

  6. I think that what the author says about always following similar concepts and returning to the same ideas is true. I’ve been doing abstract art since middle school, and I’ll probably continue to create it for a while. At some points though I tried to change what my style looked like to be more what I thought other wanted it to be. In retrospect, that was really really dumb. My art is definitely stronger when I’m doing what I want.

  7. At a certain point, the author talks about how making art that has a deep connection to you is the only important art you will make. And making art that isn’t deeply rooted to you is just running away from the problems and questions you have. While I understand what he’s getting at I don’t entirely agree with him. When I was younger I loved cartooning. It wasn’t because I had huge problems and I didn’t want to answer them through art it was because I liked the style and I thought stories were cool. I still like doing that but not as often maybe every few months. I think drawing things that have no meaning is a great way to release feelings you have.

  8. “To make art is to sing with the human voice” (117).

    One of the biggest challenges every artist has is finding their own voice. Art is an accurate representation of what we believe, reflects our personalities, and shows other people who we are as a person without using words. As I have developed my own artistic voice, I have also developed my voice as a human and art has been my go-to source of expressing myself. Everyone has their own voice and their own place in the world, however, it may take time to find it.

  9. “Follow the leads that arise from contact with the work itself, and your technical, emotional and intellectual pathway becomes clear” (113).
    “We are compelled by forces that, like the ocean current, are so subtle and persuasive we take them utterly for granted” (116).

    As always, my motivation and goals for this year stem in the direction that forces myself to find my own artistic voice within every work I create. Now more than ever, I discover techniques of visually appealing products created that I can envision adding into another work of art. Likewise, I constantly find myself returning back to the same imagery and materials that make me happy and satisfied. Incorporating both of these concepts found in the quotes above reflect my hopes for my destinations within my pieces.

  10. I have always tried to do things independently, whether I’m making art, or doing my math homework. Even if the things that I am doing are incorrect, I prefer to find the answer myself, without help from anyone. When people such as Mister Korb give me useful tutorials, no matter how helpful they are, I usually find myself justifying to myself how it was inevitable for the answer to come to me this way or that I wouldn’t have figured it out otherwise.

    1. It was inevitable that Mr. Korb would be your art teacher there to help you with the small bits of advice and challenges that helped you discover the works on your own.

  11. Throughout my highschool career I have taken a lot of art classes, almost all of the ones Mr. Korb teaches and photography. I have learned a lot about what I like and dislike doing, but I’ve learned that to actually develop a voice artistically, I am going to need more than a list of likes and dislikes.

  12. My artistic voice is a pretty good reflection of my personality, and for that reason, I think my art is pretty authentic and genuine. There are plenty of mediums and subjects for me to keep experimenting with, but I think my voice will transcend beyond that. AP and all the classes I took before that have definitely helped me find out what I like and dislike about art, and more than anything, I have become more confident in not only my artistic voice, but also my voice as an individual.

  13. People are scary and their voice can kill your artworks if you too rely on the voice of other people. Sure you need people’s feed back to develop your skill but if you think their voices are always true so you will make ‘ THEIR’ artworks instead of your

  14. The last Chapter in Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland speaks about the reflection of an artist and what gives the artist and their work meaning. To the artist, draws of inspiration will remain present, and we will continue to struggle with our own art making. To an artist, “Art work is ordinary work, but it takes courage to embrace that work, and wisdom to mediate the interplay of art and fear” (117). Art making is completely focused around overcoming the fear of the process, and the influence it has on others. Art is an expression of the self, and therefore can not be repeated. An artist is unique in their craft, and the product cannot be calculated. This reasoning is what sets apart other professionals of their craft in a science, social study, language, or mathematical degree. Questions are listed in the beginning of the chapter reflect of who we are, how we create our work, and if we can be happy with the product. The last question is what I reflect upon the most. My perfectionism eliminates satisfaction with a piece, so I structure my work to reach a conclusion that I will not be frustrated.

  15. Before we started this reading this book, I always knew that “The Human Voice” would be the chapter that I be most interested in. It is something that I strive to find in myself. I want to create artwork that says something, that I am passionate about, that I enjoy making, and that turns out exceptionally. I think that is the hardest thing to try and solve because having all of those qualities relevant with one work of art, can be very difficult. However, if I keep making art and learning about the processes, I know I can only get closer to achieving that goal.

  16. Finding my voice took me awhile to do but I find it has started to show. I have found that I do realistic drawings and that I am best with a pencil of most kinds. Whether it be a colored pencil or graphite pencil; hand me one and I will not disappoint. Also I have found that I keep the background clean and clear instead of filling it with color. I wish I had more practice with paint but I do not like to get my hands dirty.

  17. As much as I like to think I’ve found my artistic voice, I recognize that I’m constantly evolving as an artist. I like to think that the evolution isn’t really a “change” of voice, but instead a further development of it. The most important thing about developing a voice, I think, is being aware of how your current art relates to your past art. Visualizing the progress makes going forward a lot easier. I also think it’s important to not be ashamed of that past art, since it’s what has built the work you’re making now. Artistic voice is something that is gradually develops, not bursts from a sudden epiphany. Making art becomes a lot less frustrating when it’s viewed like that.

  18. I think a lot of beginning artists feel they don’t have a voice yet. I think most of us are doing really well at developing one at this point in the game. I think some people have already found their voices in art and are just unaware of it. I feel artists have a lo more in common with each other that they (or we) think. We all feel like we are amateurs or fakes at some point in our art making careers. And we all struggle to find our calling or “voice” in the art world. For me personally, i struggle with knowing what my own voice and creations are. I spend so much time being inspired by other artists online that I don’t know if my ideas are truly original. It’s hard to create an original idea sometimes. Especially when your concentration or project is based off of another work, concept, culture, or style.

  19. One of the big questions that came into this chapter was- Do artists have anything in common with each other? Artists most defiantly have a lot in common because we all start out as confused learners then we blossom into our own person. So we start together but end in similar but different places. We can never match what other artists have done. We are too different, even if artists use the same mediums and concepts their work will be uniquely their own and that is great.
    The subjects that draw us in today will draw us in tomorrow. That is the same with mediums- we might find new ones but we will always revert back to our comfort materials.
    Vox Humana- Human Voice
    Artists look at the universe differently. In fact every artist has their own unique beautiful view. Veteran artists know what topics matter to them and how to proceed.
    In the end it is up to you. Your art future is in your hands so make it worth while.
    -Mary Heebsh

  20. I have not found “my voice” yet. If I find somethings interesting to draw, I will draw it. If I have a great idea then I will most likely draw it as well. Most artists have already found their “voice” and I wish I was one of them, but I’m not. Even at an AP level I’m still learning. Learning (or getting a better understanding of) different forms of art. This year I just found out I enjoy abstraction and after high school maybe I will find another form I enjoy. Hopefully one day I find “my voice”, but for right now all I can do is wait and see what happens down the road.

  21. This chapter was my chapter for the Art and Fear piece. When I read this chapter, the part that really struck me was on page 115. The bit about constants. I find this section the most interesting because I constantly have inner thoughts about so much that feel like they weigh me down. I can control them but its difficult. All around us though, we cant control. We cant control the weather or death but we can change our thoughts on them. Doing art seems a little different. We create a piece of art and we technically can change it but we never will get it just so. What we can change is our ideas and images within ourselves along with expectations.

  22. Last year I did not really feel like my concentration was “my work.” This year I think I am getting closer to what I really want to focus on. I am a really picky person and change my mind all the time so I think it is going to take awhile until I finally create works that I really enjoy and want to focus on more. I think finding my work will involve putting meaning behind my art. I have always wanted to create something that really conveys a message I believe in, but for some reason, I never have. Maybe that will be next.

  23. I don’t think i have a specific voice yet. I have a style, but i need to find my voice. i want to do things that have personal meaning and hopefully can influence others. I enjoy art because its all a challenge. There are no rules and there are no places where u have to stop. I Finding my voice in my artwork is just another thing i need to work on. Im going to strive to make it happen and by the end of the year i hope i at least discover it.

  24. Discovering yourself as an artist does take time, however we all find our own path our own ways. I love the fact that its hard for an art teacher to give you ideas, because the best artwork that I believe of comes from your own interests and passion. I also enjoy how the art teacher can only give the experiences, not the path the student will take. Lastly, I totally agree with the above quote, because from my own experiences, the greatest quality of artwork I have produced came from my innermost passions and interests and that is what I continue to follow.

    1. Thank you for understanding my side of the desk and MORE importantly for understanding your side of the desk. The work you make for you is FAR MORE important and interesting than the work I can assign you. The experiences are what my job is all about – making the important work is yours.

  25. I agree and disagree with the way this chapter portrays artists. Yes, we do best in the areas that interest us, the ones we WANT to do and find value in. But that changes a lot considering (especially in this class) we are all really young and have decades do change and adjust. Over that time we can get into “phases” I guess and get really good at a subject. Say this happens once or twice a decade, that will leave us with easily a dozen areas of art we really value and have gotten really good at. So yes we are best at what interests us, but what if there is a lot of areas in art we hold a lot of value and interest in?

  26. This is the one chapter that struck me the most. Everyone has a voice, for some its easy to speak vocally, for me its easier to speak through my art. To communicate through picture is something I just find incredible. Some people may not fully understand what idea is trying to be brought across, but thats the beauty of it, that someone can convey their own little story and only hope thats what the artist was trying to get across to the viewers. I had a girl in an advanced drawing come up to mea and ask what my art was about because she had a whole other perspective on it, I went on and told her that my whole idea around my work was “Self discovery, where you came from, where you are, and where you are going.” And she was absolutely 100% off. But thats the whole rational behind trying to come up with a “voice” with art, no one is ever going to have the same concept gong through their head as the artist did while making the art. And that is okay. If you have what you are trying to communicate out on canvas in front of you, you got your ideas across, you spoke without speaking, its a truly beautiful thing.

  27. The phrase “We have a language that reflects how we learn to paint, but not how we learn to paint our paintings.” I somewhat agree with this phrase but at the same time I don’t agree with it. This is because I think everyone does have there own language when it comes to their own paintings. No body paint the same way, yea there can be similarities but never the same.
    I don’t think this chapter summarizes up the book but it does make a great point on the first page, first paragraph, by keeping it on tract with the rest of the book but I wouldn’t call it summarizing. I agree that we need our surroundings to help create our pieces at artiest, without it we wouldn’t have a creative mind and lots of ideas to help get us going.
    This book as really helped understand a lot more about art and its real meaning and I hope to keep what it taught me and carry it through my work.

  28. I loved this chapter because it spoke about how we as artists outside world connect into our work, a least thats what I thought the guy was saying on page 116. Also on the previous two pages he spoke about how artists become artists. It doesn’t really say, just sums up whats he’s been talking about the whole Book! I don’t really know entirely what to comment about on about this chapter other than I just read it and I only really sucked in the fact that we as artists take in the world around us and put it on a piece of paper. We observe the world around us and portray it as we see it.

  29. I think as artists we have to use our fears to push us forward. Conquering our fears will make our art stronger. I also agree that artists need to use subjects that matter to them in their art. I personally have trouble with this because I have very few material things that mean a lot to me. So the problem is that in turn I have to find a way to portray a relationship that I have with someone into my art.

  30. When I envision what I can do it is a lot different than what actually does happen. We are limited with what we can do because we are human and aren’t perfect in every aspect. We make mistakes and cant do some things as well as others. In the work I am producing now I am limited in the sense that I am not as good at portraits as other people, but I am doing things in different ways to make it my own and make it my way.

  31. I didn’t feel this chapter summed up the book, nor did I really understand how it tied into the rest of the book. As artists, we all have fear of not being able to hold up to societies, our parents, friends, or ourselves. Although looking back, I see how we have to break through all of our own individual fears to really discover our own work, I think that’s the journey we are all on this year. Whether our fear is something that others would think is stupid, or something everyone has in them. Its a part of our own experiences, and eventually is a reason why we make the art that we make. That I think is what comes full circle, and eventually shows us our path as artists. I don’t know what my direct path will be, but I know I want to make art that makes me happy, which would mean I have to take from my own fears, happiness, and experiences. That kind of ties into my concentration, the car I am drawing means a lot to me, because that is one of my biggest experiences of my childhood, and I think the only reason I didn’t get bored yet, is because it has meaning.

  32. I was a bit frustrated about how this chapter limited artist’s potential to a select few things that interest them. Since people are so versatile, I think that the subjects that could create significant meaning will vary greatly throughout an artist’s life. I do agree that certain things will resurface, though, because people have a certain core to them that cannot be altered. I think the best part of this book was the very end. Basically, the authors concluded that uncertainty is more comforting than certainty when it comes to art. I think that this statement applies perfectly not only to art, but to life in general. The risks we take in art define the eventual outcome’s realm of possibility. It goes right along with one of my favorite quotes…”Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” Anais Nin

    1. Carmel. While it would be nice to be able to do EVERYTHING as an artist, we have only so much time in the day and and so much in our heads. Even Picasso limited himself to specifics. Although… he did work in darn near every medium he could get his hands on. Maybe that is the direction your thoughts are… not so much the visuals but the approach to the visuals.

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