Is your language blue–Peacock hues tinged with yellow shifting to emerald and other greens? Do you see crystalline skies of cerulean and cobalt? Do you swim in cool aquiline waters, flickering with turquoise?  Or do you speak of storms in Prussian and violet and black made from burnt bones?

Does red, the juicy color, sink into your consciousness—the flashing lights of cadmium, or cake cherries staining fuchsia? Or do you ring round russet barns encircled by flaming autumn? Have you known the dark, sticky red and purple of blood? Or do pink flamingo feathers float through your personal jet stream along with waving flags?

Do you hang onto sunbeams that filter through your eyelashes and spill onto the canvas followed by dandelion petals and lemons? Does golden light haunt your dreams? Or are the slivers of energy from honey skies sprinkled on your cereal and pound cake?

Do you tell stories in line, caressing the arch of a hip or the tendrils of spring peas?  Or do you declare your philosophies carving into ground with palette knives or layering smears of transparencies with trowels and fingers?  Does black, black, black charcoal trickle throughout your paintings, smudging the light? Do thick, wet slabs of paint tell your tale?  Perhaps you prefer rough staccato dots to reach your conclusions?

Flowery descriptions perhaps, but the hope is that one or more of them pricked something familiar to remind or inform you what it is that makes a viewer know your work. We have a visual language we come to know. And although it may be cross-pollinated with others,  it becomes unique by what we choose to utilize most.  Our choices (once we become aware we are making choices) of  color, size, scale, surface, technique, tools and subject reflect our sensibilities and in turn shape our statement.

An illustration from another context–

Keith Chen, an economist at Yale University, theorizes that  languages’ different devices play a large part in shaping a culture and a society. For example native speakers of English,  a language in which there is a future tense, are more inclined  to save less for retirement and be more obese than their Mandarin-speaking counterparts because the future tense conveys a sense that consequences for actions are far in the future. In contrast languages in which verbs are always in the present tense, like Mandarin, convey a greater sense of urgency resulting in different outcomes. (Chens research shows Mandarin speakers save 39% more than English speakers by retirement age.)

Whether we believe this correlation or not, visual language holds a similar power to shape the artist’s statement.  Drips opposed to blends. Reds opposed to yellows.  Large opposed to small.  Etc. We may make the choices at random, but they tell your tale regardless of the consideration you give them–work to understand and then exploit them. Let your visual language lead your imagination.  Don’t be afraid that your work looks different–it’s supposed to.

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