Finding Our Style

Art & homeschool are similar in that everyone seems to find their own style, & it's unfortunately far too easy to compare oneself to the plethora of people on the internet doing what you're doing *but better*. How is it everyone else always seems to be doing everything *better*?

Obviously, they are not. They're just doing it *differently*, but that message is harder to internalize.

It always comes back to finding your own style. No particular style is inherently better than any other style; it just speaks to a different audience (one in which the creator should be party, because everyone should be building something they, themselves, love). So, why is it so hard to find your own style? I find part of my personal struggle is that I am drawn equally to SO MANY things.

In art, I love stylized illustration with a whimsical bend but admire work with a sort of realism to it. I, however, struggle to bridge those ideals in rendering my own works. I also admire very cartoonish illustration & abstract moody illustration. So, my personal struggle is in separating admiration from inspiration. My goals for this year are as follows:

*render illustrations from images or from still life set ups to better master color & form (realism- but of boring things that maybe are not what I would be excited to draw but will help with foundational stuff)
*draw every. single. day. Even if it is just a silly doodle.
*illustrate the kiddos & their plentiful shenanigans. This will probably just be in my sketchbook, but I know I ultimately want to draw human characters so the practice is mandatory.
*let my style emerge in the work as I go- no pressure on seeking it.

I did this for my Scribbles. The handmade doll world is very saturated, & honestly, I already know there will be some clear crossover in my illustrations & my dolls, & I am grateful for finding a style organically in the years I focused on dollmaking. But there are some tweaks I want to make & some styles I want to try, regardless of if those styles end up represented at all in my future work.



The style issue is more complex in homeschooling. I have these ideas in my head about how things *should* go, or what subjects will be exciting... & then the kids react however they naturally are inclined to react. Sometimes, it is how I expect, & other times it is completely contrary to my anticipation. And the most frustrating... when they react favorably for the first half of a unit, & then refuse to discuss the subject halfway through. Furthermore, there are so many different approaches to education, & sometimes I think one sounds really amazing, but it doesn't jive with our actual lives.

We started (kindergarten & pre-k) with a Waldorf curriculum, then I added in some Montessori lessons, then we evolved into unit study (which I think works best for us). I am naturally a bookish person with a lot of love for whimsy & fairytales, so I personally gravitate to teaching through reading & imaginative play & illustrative art in lessons. It's tricky to find a marriage with these different components that works at keeping the kids engaged & also actually truly teaches them something, but I think over the course of this year, we have found a good (although not perfect) mix for us. I am completely confident that this will change yearly, & possibly many times throughout each year.

Homeschooling can also be tricky because of the freedom to teach your kiddos in whatever method works for you, when it works for you, & however it works for you- you are not married to the subject progression public schools use (so, for example, we have worked on early American history in month-long units, which public school kindergarten would not do). Some people find this super liberating, while others find it jarring, like being tossed into the ocean on a small craft without an anchor. I experience both feelings in rotation throughout the year. My biggest challenge so far is simply being mom & teacher & getting the kids to follow instruction & take me seriously in both roles. Sometimes, the power-struggle is real.





It's a little overwhelming where I am right now, trying to figure out how to make my personal & professional lives thrive simultaneously & feeling like so much rides on getting both things right. That pressure to find my style so my days can flow a little more effortlessly than they do right now. Figuring out my style won't "fix" things, really... but sometimes having your bearings can make the navigation a little less stressful!

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