Tuesday, May 3, 2016

How to Be Unique When Feeling Ordinary


I understand each of us is different. Still, I have this niggling feeling what I've done is mediocre.

Shakespeare said, “We know what we are, but know not what we may be.”

That is uniqueness. 

To me, it feels like a goal out of reach. Do you ever feel like that?

When I create, I create from my own fervor, skills, and values. No one but me has that same combination. So wouldn't my creations be unique too?

And wouldn't any ideas and tips I share, based on my experiences, be unique, too?

Then, how did I escape the ordinary? 

Looking at what others did in the SCA some 20 years ago, I wanted something recreated I hadn't seen done before. I wanted a page from the Manesse Codex painted. Even before I found scrolls and scribes, that's what I really wanted.

Poor perspective painting of a castle, moat, and trees.
My Early Illumination Showing My Persona's  Home
I couldn't find anyone to do it. So I learned to do it myself, on my own, with only a high school art training. 

Without an actual plan. My initial efforts were pitiful. 

As time went on I researched illumination history and methods. My research taught me my approach and skill. Eventually, I created pages from the Manesse Codex and then I was hooked.

My method of work developed and my art was being noticed. I found other illuminators and we shared ideas. 

I was nudged by friends to take risks. First calligraphy and then a complete scroll. Slowly I became part of the Calontir Scribes Guild. I found other illumination styles I was drawn to paint.

Along the way my uniqueness arrived, by doing the work and discovering what I liked best.

As a novice, I hardly understood what painting was. My first attempts seem crude now. Using gold-leaf, or vellum was way out there. My goal was to paint what I treasured and coveted the Manesse Codex.

My next goal was to contribute. Each reign I gave Manesse-style illuminations to Their Majesties. I made prizes and bookmarks for 12th Night gifts. This never was practice. It was fun. 

And the most fun I now have is teaching what I've discovered. My "Playing With Period Pigments" class.

That's how I hit upon my uniqueness. Projects that energized me, made me feel alive. And they're still my fireball passion today.

When you learn a craft, whether fighting, service or artisan, your uniqueness develops in the honing process. As they say, do more of what you love. Trust your unimaginable uniqueness to emerge.