Finding a style as an artist can be a struggle. I want to share 3 tips, techniques and ideas on how to develop your own style! These are all things that have helped me as well as my students, so I hope they will help you too.
I want to share a message I got from Lisa P., a subscriber on my email list. She said, “My biggest challenge right now with my artwork is trying to find my style. I think I’m pretty good at drawing and painting, but I find my paintings to be boring. I want to love my work. I like it, but don’t love it.”
Any of y’all ever feel like that?
“I’m not sure if that can really be taught. I paint every day with the goal of someday loving what I practice, what I produce, I’m loving the process, but get frustrated at times.”
Hey there. I’m Mary Gilkerson. And today we’re going to be talking about finding a style as an artist.
It can be a real struggle. I know I’ve gone through that at one time or another. In fact, I don’t think any artists can honestly say they haven’t faced that struggle it one point in their career or in their practice.
So I want to share three tips in particular, three tips, techniques, or ideas about how to really develop your own style. These are things that have helped me as well as my students hope they’ll help you too.
The first thing to understand is you really don’t find your style. You create it.
Style doesn’t happen by you going out and making this search through the universe for where your style is. Like the children’s book titled, Are You My Mother? I’ve been reading that to my granddaughter lately.
And you know, the little bird goes around going, are you my mother? Are you my mother?
Well, we tend to do that as artists and it’s not super effective. Style happens by creating it. You create it. It finds you. You create it through the act of painting. So you’ve got to paint.
Painting creates style.
Style happens through the act of painting on a consistent basis. So let’s talk first about some of those things that can happen, things that you can do to create that style.
I’ve talked before about how to find more time to paint and developing that regular painting practice.
That’s the first thing to do.
If you paint on a consistent regular basis, your style can’t help but develop. You will be creating it.
Whether you’re spending 10 minutes a day, or two hours a day or five minutes a day, do something towards your painting practice. That’s the first, first very first thing that will make a difference.
Learn more about daily painting in these two episodes – 3 Signs That It’s Time To Start A Daily Painting Practice and Daily Painting: Why Start a Practice
The next thing to think about is to work in a series. Working in a series is one of the fastest ways to jump start creating your style.
First, let’s talk about what a series is. A series is any art that’s connected together by a theme or a subject or a color or a size.It is a body of art that when you look at it you know it was created by the same artist. There’s some sort of visual connection there.
There’s a huge benefit of working in a series…you start creating better art. Working on something consistently over time results in better artworks.
The second benefit to painting in a series is you’ll come to understand your subject matter better. You’ll connect to your subject on a much deeper level. When you’re working with the same subject matter over and over again you build that deep connection and begin to relate to it in a consistent way.
That consistency thing comes up as a theme over and over when you’re looking at building a series and creating your style.
The third benefit to painting in a series is it makes it easier for you to build and connect with your audience. When you create in a series you’ll be able to talk more clearly about the WHY of your art practice. Convey what makes you want to paint to your audience and you’ve started building a connection with them too. In Simon Sinek’s 2009 TED talk he says, “People don’t buy what you do; people buy why you do it.”
Consider working consistently and painting in a series in order to create your style.
And here’s the third tip. Write about your art as much as you paint. And by that, I mean, get a journal, use your sketch book, but jot down ideas as you’re painting, give yourself some reflective time as you paint.
I used to tell my students at the college that they needed to spend as much time sitting in a chair and looking at their paintings as they did painting their paintings. Because that reflective time helps you figure out where you’re going and what you’re doing. It helps you figure out why you’re doing it.
Don’t try to figure it out all ahead of time. It’s a process that you’ve got to participate in.
Let’s reflect on those three things.
1. Work consistently. Get in your creative space and do something each day.
2. Work in a series so that you can begin to create your style.
3. Reflect on your work because in that reflections, you’ll begin to see where the consistent threads are.
Look for those consistent threats. I hope this has been helpful if it’s helped you then I hope you share it with an art friend.
Happy painting everybody. Remember to stay resilient and paint on bye bye for now.
You're invited to a special free workshop I’m hosting where I'll share how you can leverage composition, value, and color to make compelling paintings. If you missed this earlier now's the time to save your seat. You can learn more here and find a time that fits your schedule.