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Cohesive Body of Work

February 5, 2019

Cohesive Body of Work. There's a phrase that has been haunting me for months. What does it mean? Do I have one? Why is it so important? How can I get one without muting my creative voice?

According to collinsdictionary,com, "Something that is cohesive consists of parts that fit together well and form a united whole."

If you look at the photos for my first three blog posts, you will see three different images of shoes. The subject matter unites them even though the chosen media are each different (colored pencil, acrylic, fiber).

That's all fine and good, but I am not going to only have footwear as subject matter.

Some artists use only one medium, which can supply the cohesiveness.

Other artists may paint the same scene repeatedly.  Or use assorted media but have a unifying subject matter, like nature.

Some may use color to tie everything together. 

A visibly cohesive body of work lets the viewer know right away what to expect from the artist. 

If you have looked through some of my galleries, you've noticed a wide variety of subject matter rendered in assorted media and with very distinct styles. Not cohesive.

I (and other of my artist friends) have been told to "just pick something!" All of what you see in the galleries is part of me. I like variety. I need variety.

When a project comes up, I think about what I want to do and then decide which media will be best suited for the final piece. It's like opening a package; no one knows what will be in it!  (In case you wondered why I chose the image I did for this post.)

So, do I have a cohesive body of work? Sure doesn't look like it.

But.. in that delicious time between waking up and getting up as I was thinking about what I was going to write, I realized I do have a unifying element! Accuracy. My body of work captures the essential truth and accurate representation of the chosen subject matter. The style may be whimsical, not realistic at all, but it is accurate. Very rarely will artistic license override accuracy - in fact, I can only think of one instance of that happening. (Maybe that will be my next post.)

I just reread my artist statement on the home page. I first wrote that in 2008 and it still fits. There are two references to "accuracy". I could have saved myself a lot of angst over the whole "Cohesive Body of Work" thing had I paid attention to what I obviously knew about myself and my art!

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