Develop Your Own Style - Learning From Artists
When we talk about personal style, we are talking about a specific method, a manner, or a way in which you do something.
For an artist, it’s how you decide on color schemes, the time of day you paint…it’s the angle with which your hand presses the brush against the page.
You cannot help but be style-ish. We’re here to help you unpack how you can tune into your painting style with intentionality.
Maya Angelou once said:
It’s the how that attracts people to you and the same goes for your works. In today’s ebook, we ask you to consider: How are you going to allow your creative genius to express itself and find its audience?
Below we will unpack some easy steps you can take to access your creative virtuoso & uncover the findings of your very own painting style!
Exercise 1: Digging Deep
Exercise 1: Answering questions about ourselves can help uncover unknowns about our artistic capabilities
Step 1: Answer me this: (get out a pen and paper)
- Are you supported by friends and family?
- Are there any events in your life that you think would shape your style?
I held an interview with a few favorite artists of mine. @pingreeart being one of them. This was his answer:
“Moving to NYC in 2001 definitely shaped me and my work. Hordes of figures in motion - the epitome of city life - has become my primary subject matter. I think there is real beauty in it.”
Jay gets his inspiration from the blurry images of people walking in the NYC subway station.
“From my own photographs of figures in motion. I have yet to tire of this subject matter. My photos inform my paintings and my paintings inform my photos. This has been a trend. I enjoy what happens when I leave the shutter open on my camera. I then enjoy trying to interpret that onto a canvas with paint. But then with ideas of how I want my figures to appear on the canvas I go back and alter my shooting to try to achieve that effect.”
Maybe you move to a big city where you could sketch people in the subway? Maybe deep down you don’t always feel as happy as you think you should be.
@expressionabbey developed a beautiful style by reaching deep inside her core. (look below)
“From nature and my feelings. Some of my favorite things to paint are sunsets, stars and mountains because, just the mere act of looking at them brings me happiness and wonder. I have suffered from slight depression on and off for years. You see, I kept this secret for most of my life. I rarely felt happy ever since I was a teenager. When I feel happy it is such a treat and I think therefore I choose to paint vibrant and whimsical pieces.”
Are you a stubborn artist? Maybe you’re like me, you don’t express or admit feeling any feelings and just want to splatter paint against a wall.
Are you surrounded by jaw dropping scenic landscapes like @expressionabbey?
“I think my pieces are Peaceful, Vibrant and a bit Whimsical. Whimsical because it depicts landscapes that are not as I see them but, as they make me feel.
For example: “When I paint mountains I am usually pulling from my memories of going to the nearby mountains (Mount Laguna and Julian). Those memories are some of my happiest memories and therefore, it only seems appropriate to use vibrant colors to depict them.”
- What are you interested in?
- What makes you, you?
- Why are you sad?
- What secrets are you hiding?
As we plunge into this world of inspiration, it’s fair to consider anyone who is a creative.
I’m attracted to art that is bold and true like @youpayforlife. I enjoy art that is NOT supposed to be & makes me feel an uncomfortable feeling.
We have not yet finished the interview with @youpayforllife but, as you can observe:
A disturbing delight.
What’s always helped me is learning that my idols were/are still afraid…and they did their craft anyways.
Exercise 2: Get Involved
Getting involved in the painting community is a must if you’re serious about developing a style.
You don’t need to like everyone – if you do, wonderful. But our main goal here is to learn from them. You will develop as a person and this will help you further develop as an artist.
Step 1: Host a meetup. Learn and immerse yourself into the world to truly get what you want.
Step 2: Use Instagram, Eventbrite or Facebook as resources to identify and RSVP for upcoming events
Step 3: Attend an exhibition/event (goal: Start a conversation with at least 2 people.)
Exercise 3: Be A Producer, Not A Consumer
I remember reading a blog post that talked about the importance of working out your creativity as quickly as you can.
In the story that was told, there was a ceramics teacher who split up a class into two groups of students. One was told they’d be graded on quantity; the other would be graded on quality. At the end of class, it was the group that focused on quantity that had the highest quality output.
In the end, the group that went for quantity rather than quality not only created more, but finetuned their skillset with each attempt.
The lesson here being that too much time spent on any one thing may be counterproductive in your creation process.
In plain speak, perfection kills creativity.
Make A Commitment Calendar
I’ll use myself as an example:
On the days when I devoted myself to only painting, sketching, or writing, I procrastinated like crazy. The night before it would seem like such a brilliant idea. But come morning, I’d feel glued to my bed and terrified that my day of creation would not merit something utterly perfect.
Step 1: Buy and create a calendar where you can see the month ahead.
Step 2: Two days out of each week, you will commit to painting, but for 20-30 minutes ONLY!
Tip! I find that choosing a day that’s already busy is ideal (plan to arrive early to at least one of your appointments and bring some artist materials with you to play around a bit with during that tiny window of time.)
Step 3: Do not skip the days/times you’ve allotted for creativity.
Be fully present during this time. Get rid of distractions; turn off your phone and close yourself off from anyone who might need your attention.
Find A Genuine Artistic Friend
I find that I’m more inclined to create something when I’m with other people who are also tasked with creating something.
Step 1: Call up a friend who is a fellow artist and invite them to a paint night with you
Step 2: You can host it in your home or in a park
Step 3: When you’re together, decide on an object to or paint something abstract.
Step 4: Mix it up! Try painting under a blind fold! As stated in the ceramics class example above, it’s not about quality, it’s about quantity. We just need you creating. And that’s that.
Friends are great for encouragement and filling that void you have with all your non artistic friends.
Great for expression too, they’ll actually know what you’re talking about.
Copy & Create
To the artists who’ve come to her with complaints about not finding any idea that hasn’t already been done before, she’s advised:
Guaranteed, it’s already been done, but it’s not been done by you... All we do as humans is respond to stuff that’s come before us. But you’re allowed to add to the pile.
In the beginning it’s good to copy from other artists, but add something from your imagination or a different style to the piece and soon enough you'll develop your own artistic style. - @expressionabbey
Fear Of Being Copied
In our interview with Karina she had a little to say about this issue:
If people repost your art on Instagram, take it as a compliment. "I remember someone decided to post one art piece of mine to their Instagram account without crediting me. It had happened a few times before and I was a bit annoyed. Then thought - If people are taking the time to use my art to try and get likes, then it must mean it's good.
“Creativity will always provoke fear”
The writer, Elizabeth Gilbert, authored a text called Big Magic, which is essentially a manifesto to living a fearless life as a creative.
And when it comes to the paralyzing anxiety her readers face before they start, she shares her own strategy:
Gilbert talks to her fear in a friendly way:
I don’t go to war against it; I acknowledge it’s importance, and I invite it along. You can come with me but I’m doing this thing.
After Developing Your Portfolio
Now that you’ve developed a bit of a portfolio (albeit haphazardly – good job!), set some time aside to see which ones you like.
Step 1: Line up every single item that you created, whether it feels finished or not.
Step 2: Try to observe your own works as if they were someone else’s that you were encountering at an exhibit or on the walls of a café.
Step 3: After some time has passed, answer the following questions and locate the art critic within you.
- What did I enjoy about painting these?
- Did I like the outcome?
- What color schemes seem most common?
- What colors are constantly missing?
- What emotions do you experience upon viewing your paintings?
- What do these paintings call to mind
Everything we just covered above are questions of style. Your painting style…Success!
Exercise 6: Rinse and Repeat
Now that you’ve got the bare bones knowledge of what you are able to do, you can guess what’s next…
- Don’t throw anything away during this period of experimentation.
- Protect your work! If you have unsolicited critics (amongst colleagues, friends or even family), don’t bring them around your work during this period. It’s not their place, nor your place to judge during this production part. Once again, the focus is on quantity, not quality.
- Remember the hardest thing is being self taught and figuring out certain questions cannot be answered by a simple internet search.
- In the beginning it’s good to copy from other artists, but add something from your imagination or a different style to the piece and soon enough you'll develop your own artistic style.
- Use masking tape and find a nice 3/4" stroke brush to work with.
Below on the right is an image of an artist named Rachael Moyles.
Here is her advice to you:
“Ask yourself one simple question – what do you want to create? Don’t ask yourself things like “what will get me noticed?”, “how do I paint/draw/whatever just like person x, y, or z?”
“It’s okay to incorporate things you enjoy about other artists’ works, but in order to truly develop your own unique style you must be true to yourself and your desire to create.”