Sunday, August 31, 2008

Point of View

Point of view.

I've heard the phrase a lot lately and it's got me thinking. We writers love point of view. We wrangle endlessly about whose eyes from which a scene is being observed. Woe to the writer who has an abrupt POV shift within a scene, although Nora Roberts does it quite successfully....

In the last few weeks, I've heard the phrase 'point of view' on a couple of reality based shows like 'The Next Food Network Star' and 'Project Runway.' (Yes, I'm addicted to both. Cut me some slack. I don't watch American Idol or Survivor.) The phrase puzzled me a bit at first, then I got it. The contestants are talking about style. Personal style. Their unique factor. Flair. The one thing that makes their work different from everyone else's. It's the way they see the world. It's probably the one thing about their work that makes their hearts sing.

Back in my professional photography days, my reputation was built on a love of contrasting the elegant against the rustic. Time after time, I posed brides in beautiful white gowns between sharp cliff faces or on the edge of the canyons. It was dramatic, exciting, and beautiful. Clients came to me for just those looks.

When I think of photographers I've known and studied with, I see their signature looks also. Charles J. Lewis's warm family portraits, Monte Zucker's elegant lighting and emotional style or Rocky Gunn's dramatic outdoor art portraits. Each is so distinctive that if you knew what to look for, you would easily be able to pick their work from a collection. It would be like being able to find the Renoir among the Rembrandt's and both from among the Picasso's. Totally different styles.

Writers, too. Can you tell Stephen King from Charles Dickens? Jane Austen from Nora Roberts? John Grisham from Jodi Picoult? Of course you can. Foodies, as well. Bobby Flay is different than Rachel Ray. Come to think of it, you can tell the difference between Debbie Mumm and Martha Stewart, can't you?

So the question is.....what's your style? What's your point of view?

Are you writing, painting, sculpting, sewing, or gardening according to your style or are you trying to please someone else? If you gathered several pieces of your work together would there be a cohesive thread throughout?

As an exercise this week, try to define a portion of your style. Don't be afraid, it will not limit you to only that one thing. Those dramatic portraits I used to do? They got people talking and brought work into my door, but many of my clients only wanted a sweet and simple portrait, they were not interested in traipsing into the canyons. That's okay, my style for fresh, unique design carried over. So....maybe in reality, that was my point of view. Hmmm....more thinking to do. One of the worries I have in my writing is my lack of a definitive style or voice. I sound like too many other people still when I write so I'll be exploring this exercise with you.

Whatever you do, it's got to look like YOU. Not your features or your skin color, but your personality.

There is light within you. Let it shine!

4 Other Creative Souls are Saying:

Sweet P said...

Your questions are always so thought provoking. If you put all my quilts together I don't think you would find a cohesive style. Over the last four years I've tried a little bit of everything. I seldom follow a pattern word for word. Sometimes you never know what you'll find in my quilts.

Perhaps that is my style - look for the surprise!

Jenileigh said...

This was a great read Deb. Although I'm not sure how to answer the question. I'll ponder it a bit!

Being Beth said...

This is interesting to contemplate, Deb. I've been thinking about it all week. I think I know my style/voice/unique perspective. I find it's a process of emergence which takes some time, study, thought, and practice.

Sometimes we need to look through a different lens -- take off the dark wrap-arounds, maybe look more through the distance part of the bifocal or perhaps get a magnifier, and even sometimes we need a kaleidoscope.

Sometimes we need to do something that is completely obsurd. I did this yesterday. Tired of the black and white of my word processor and novel, and hungry for the vibrant colors of Autumn, I got out my calligraphy.

I'm NOT good at calligraphy. In fact, it is absurd for me to even try to do it -- I have horrible penmanship and I can't draw much besides stick figures -- I'm left handed -- lots going against me and calligraphy. But, still I love the pens, the ink, the sound and feel of the pen scratching on parchment, the slowness of it, the stokes, the time to think between strokes, the colors. Wanting to stretch myself and do something off the wall, I decided to do calligraphy with my right hand. What I drew yesterday with my right hand surprised me -- it is artistic, pretty, shows promise of becoming close to gift quality. The best part -- it really charged my creativity, and I thought of this blog post of yours -- cause what stood out the most was an emerging of my own calligraphy style. I think I'll nurture it a bit. Quilting is next.

DebMc said...

Sweet P...surprise a fine style. I wonder if you keep looking, if you'll find another thread. Either way, let your quilting feed your soul.

Thanks for the compliment, Jenileigh!

Beth! Process of emergence--yes! New perspective is always good. I applaud your journey into calligraphy. It's not the results yet that matter, its the process and newness. Congrats on stretching yourself!