Finding your own art style is something that gets asked about so much in the art world. How do you do that? Let me tell you how I came about my style.
For me, I began attending hundreds of online classes using all the mediums. I’ve tried stamping, stencilling, collage, inkpads, inks, watercolour, acrylics,oils,alcohol markers, different types of pens, coloured pencils, fabric painting, ceramic painting, ceramics, sculpture using cloth and wire etc etc. The list really does go on. The reason I’m telling you all this is that I spent years creating what other people taught. What this does, is allow you the space to create exactly what someone else is doing, so essentially, their style. This is a great starting point.
At first, it is fabulous and extremely good to experiment, but then you begin to realise that at some point you really want it to be uniquely yours. I then decided to just stop all online classes, all influence by other artists. I was totally saturated.
I turned to various art supplies that I was drawn to and slowly began playing with those and found what I really liked and what was just ok. So really, this process took years before I came to see that I’d actually developed a bit of a style. I still feel that my style is flexible just because I like lots of different topics and materials, but that is also totally fine. I know I have some signature things that I do. That is not to say no one else does this, it’s just what suits me and makes me happy.
How do you find your own art style?
Step one: What excites you?
What topic lights you up? Imagine you have your camera, and you’re able to take any photos you’d like. What is that thing you would take the most photos of? Flowers, birds, animals, landscapes, people, babies, abstract images, macro photography of nature… Now comes the hard part, pick one or two topics to focus on. That’s it.
Step Two: Take some classes
Find classes, online or in person, that offers those subjects and using mediums that you are drawn to. Sign up to those and enjoy experimenting. In these classes, you are learning techniques as well as different things you can do with your materials. While doing these classes, ask yourself what you have been having the most fun with and which materials, you can do without. What this is doing now, is refining what materials you want to keep. This obviously doesn’t mean you can’t come back to other materials; it’s just a refining for this moment.
Step Three: Target the classes
Continue with classes that are now focused on the materials and topics that interest you. I have found that when going to a class that is way out of my comfort zone, I’m so anxious that I just don’t connect with what I’m meant to be doing. It actually, for the most part, has nothing to do with the teacher, but rather how you are feeling about the topic or materials.
So, pick the classes that will enhance your journey as an artist. It’s definitely helpful if you really connect with the teacher though. It can completely affect your experience if something about her annoys you! So, do your research, watch any free videos or tutorials that she has put together to get a feel for if she’s the right fit for you.
Step Four: Find colours that work for you
Definitely do colour studies. With this, you do not have to find the most expensive course available, but it really helps and saves lots of time if you have a base idea of colours that work well together and the mixing of certain colours. For me, the knowledge of pigments in acrylics was life changing. Single pigments meant crisper, more predictable colours when mixing. It’s so simple, but can really change your art. To do this, you don’t have to even attend a class, you can do your own research. Working out which colours result in mud, is definitely a starting point!
Step Five: Knowing when to stop
Knowing when to stop. By this I mean, go to the classes, learn all the techniques, play with all the materials and then know when the time is right for you to stop. We can become quite addicted to lessons as a safety net. Our insecurities and fears prevent us from moving forward by ourselves! How I knew was when I’d attend a class only to realise that I knew most of what was being taught on that topic. So, it’s essential to know when the time is right to stop the classes and focus on the materials that bring you joy.
Now the real work begins. Keep practising but with only yourself as an influence and your memory of all the classes. Take little bits of influence from each artist who taught you and put things together that light you up. (By the way, this doesn’t mean you never attend classes again! This is just temporary while you find what lights you up. There is always more to learn!)
Step Six: Look back in history for inspiration
Look into the history of art, to see what artist of the past have done and what parts you love. It was after about 6 months of no classes, no looking too deeply into other styles, that I then turned to the masters and scoured artists throughout history to see how they used colour for effect, how they represented various topics, just to get a feel for variety in art.
I was very drawn to the impressionist period- I loved the blocky way paint was put down by Cezanne. Does it mean I’m using it in my art right now? No, but it’s an influence that I do love and it may creep in at some stage. So, open yourself up to some influence down the track and just lock it in your brain. It all adds up to create who you are and how you paint.
Step Seven: Different ways to put down marks
Lastly, take note of how you put down the line/paint. The ways you use create interest and texture. They bring wonder to your work, paired with light and shadow. Once you feel happy with your topics and design in putting them together, it’s very much about refining things to your way. Now, along the way you may have decided to turn to landscapes, even though you started with faces, that’s perfectly fine. Remember , the most important thing of all is that this is your journey, there are no rules, no limitations. You are the boss of your art!!!
During this process I also moved into painting intuitively and often abstracts. What I found is that when you paint intuitively, it can never be wrong because it’s what you feel. This in itself is very liberating. So, if you’re wanting to do art as a form of therapy, intuitive painting would be well worth a go. I also found out that painting in the abstract is way more work than any other form that I’ve experimented with! It involves colours, design and composition even more than something based on reality. Well worth it though.
I hope you enjoyed this and work on ‘finding your own art style’ in the way that really suits you.
Take care until next time.
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