In Search of Style . . .

No, I am not talking about the “fashionista” type of style, I’m talking about the kind you search for as an artist . . .

The fact that artists, musicians, writers, and most other creative folks develop a style that is recognizable by others has always fascinated me. Also, that you don’t get to choose or create your style – you basically have to find it.

Once you do, you can hone it, polish it, embellish and improve it.

But, God forbid you want to change it, because you can’t. It’s part of you.

When you see an artist flip-flopping styles, it is an artist who is still searching for her/his style.

I once attended an opening here in Santa Fe for the paintings of an iconic former rock star. It was not that pleasant. She arrived very late and was loud, self-denigrating, and insulting to anyone who tried to compliment her – on her past performance as a singer – or on her paintings. She even said, and I quote: “Anyone who would pay $5000 for that painting is an idiot”. The gallery owner was mortified and so were people who were considering purchases.

But the most amazing thing about this opening – as if the foregoing was not enough – was that you thought you were at a collective show featuring several well known Southwest painters – all with very recognizable styles. No two paintings were the same style and none were this artist’s style. She wasn’t copying anybody intentionally – just trying out all kinds of observed painting styles, because she had yet to discover her own.

I Googled and, twenty years later, she does seem to have found a style, and does seem to be having some success with giclée reproductions. Her style turned out to be warm and fuzzy, which she still is not.

We all have style, no matter how hard some might protest. This is evident in our handwriting, which is so individual that it can be used as evidence in a trial. We all learn to write according to the same set of rules, but the more we practice, the more our own style of doing it emerges and solidifies.

The same is true in all forms of self expression. Practice and something uniquely you will show up.

In my case, my painting style was evident right way. I could show you paintings from the very beginning of my career and you would know they were mine. Like “Patience” (in this post)- a piece I painted in the 1970’s.

I like my style a lot, but I have still tried to change it many times. To be looser, more realistic, more serious, easier and faster, etc. But to no avail – my style prevails.

So, why are there silver earrings in this post?

I have been making jewelry since the early 90’s, when I first had galleries. It has mostly been jewelry made out of beads and metal pieces that I bought. The way that I put the pieces together was fine, and they sold well – often providing the bread and butter income for the galleries. But they could have been made by anyone with a developed design eye. Nothing about them was “me”.

When we moved last year to our current location, I was very tired of doing jewelry that way. I wanted to go higher-end and do something that was unique,

I wanted to work with silver, my favorite metal and start from scratch with sheet metal. I wanted to see what my “style” would be in this medium, and whether it would bear any resemblance to my painting style.

After a year, my style in silver is emerging.

It is clear I am an illustrator because I want to make “pictures” with any medium I try.

Earlier on, I tried stamping the silver with those ready made jewelry stamps you find all over. I was frustrated that putting different elements together did not make for harmony because each stamp had someone else’s style already.

So, I bought chasing tools, which are metals stamps that are just lines and curves of different sizes. These I could use to “draw” on the silver. And they forced me to simplify and minimalize. It is more like the lines suggest a subject rather than define it.

My “Last Leaves” earrings at the top of the post are an example of that. I am also using the “paint” of oxidation and really loving that effect.

Here is another rendition . . .

And once I made small leaves, I wanted to make big ones . . .

And then, it seemed like a leaf and a seed, so I added bark . . .

Back to minimal lines. I tried a couple of ideas that were more like sculpture . . .

I titled these “The Pendulum Swings”. They symbolize hope because the pendulum always does swing back from the extremes.

And this one reminds me of the Yoga “tree pose” which is all about balance.

I think I see a style emerging.

Do you? If so, do you think there is any relation to my painting style?

Interestingly, after three years working with kiln glass, I have still not found my style. I am making every different kind of thing, and they all sell, thank heavens, or I couldn’t afford this folly, but I can’t find me in that kiln yet. You never know how long or how much practice it takes, but because I love the medium, I know that my soul is in there someplace!

Here are the best ever, handmade chasing tools (I LOVE them)






  1. I see your style in these earrings. Realistic simplicity is what I would call your style. It’s not cute yet it can seem that way at times because your people and houses are somewhat cute but actually they get down to the basics without the fine detail of things. I like your style.

    I agree style finds you. I admire so many abstract pieces but can’t do them myself. I try but it always looks forced and flat. I am not cutesy either. So far I would say a sort of realism but definitely not photographic realism. I don’t think it’s a refined, everyone would recognize my work, style yet but I do find I can’t stray far from it without getting into a mess!

    I love all these earrings and they definitely look like a “line” of earrings rather than a disparate grouping. And definitely “you”!

  2. Thank you Timaree! What a lovely compliment all around.
    And Jeanne, that is still my blog post at that link – just the one where I announced being a featured artist on Doodlewash.

  3. Hi Jessica, I see your style in the earrings too. They are very pretty and I hope you make pendants out of some of the leaf and rectangle ones as I no longer wear earrings. I would purchase a pendant however. I love silver handmade work and have a lot of it. Also something I have no interest in learning how to do. I think you have a style in your kiln work, perhaps not what you think. I have a clear recollection of many of your kiln pieces from reading your blog and perhaps seeing them in your store before the current one. However I see them as utilitarian art work versus the other way around, art first then utility. If that is your goal, when you set out to make kiln work do you make it from an “art” standpoint or to make something to use? I am thinking of your watercolor palettes which were beautiful and artistic and I almost bought one. I see their use and design work before I see the art aspect. Isn’t illustration somewhat like design work for you? I did not buy one as I really do not need another palette. I have so many trying to decide what works best for me. The other reason I I did not buy one is I waited too long trying to decide if I would use it.

  4. I love these earrings and think the simple, clean lines you use in your art are evident in your jewellery as well. Maybe if you see what is common in your paint and jewellery styles you can try and use those elements in your glass work. Or maybe you should just keep enjoying yourself and your style will emerge.

  5. Love this jewelry. I can see your style in this jewelry, as well,

  6. Oh, sorry. I thought it would be a link to your earlier art and I was eager to see the similarities or differences from your work now!
    At any rate, your jewelry IMHO certainly reflects your love for and connection to nature. It is beautiful. I don’t think it is whimsical, like much of your art. But that’s not a bad thing—it’s just different and coexists wonderfully.

  7. I really like these earrings. Is there any chance you will offer them for sale online? I’ve always wanted to visit…but it’s a long trip from Boston.

  8. HI Marisa, Yes, my intention is to offer many of the things from the gallery online and I am trying to work that out for Christmas shopping. Three of these pairs of earrings have already sold in the gallery, but I will repeat some styles – with differences for being handmade of course. Price range on these is $85 to $110.

  9. My eternal struggle…..I don’t consider myself an artist, per se. I just long to create….and I’m bursting with appreciation (and envy…I’ll admit it) for those who found their special media and style.

  10. Just keep trying stuff, Jo. I guarantee something will grab you and stick.

  11. Hi Jessica, you are right on with these earrings! They incorporate your style in the best way. When can I buy a pair?

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