How to find your own painting style

How to Develop a Personal Painting Style

Part of being an artist is having an identifiable style, that special something that enables someone to look at a painting and know that it by you, regardless of what the subject of the painting is. A particular painting style is something a gallery will want to see in your work. So how do you develop this, or is it something you automatically have? Do you have to stick to that style forever, or can you change it? And how do you decide what your painting style is, given all the options there are?

Id say it’s something you develop. After all, you don’t take a class and then claim that whatever was covered in the class is your style. You develop your styles as you go through your life as an artist. I’d like to think you can have many different styles if you want to, and those will likely change as you grow as an artist. I read so much of people starting out in something like realism and ending up in impressionism or even expressionism because they got tired of reality. I used to love realism but found I enjoyed the impressionist style more.

I think it’s something you develop over time unconsciously or consciously. Galleries apparently like to see a distinctive style of whatever sort, then, when the artist tends to move away from that style, they can be pushed into keeping doing it because the gallery or whoever has created a market for that particular thing. It is possible to paint what you like, in fact I think its really important to paint what you like, because then you will discover more and more about what you love to do, and when you paint what inspires you your paintings have so much more life, joy, ¬†feeling and inspiration in them.

Some people find it a little bit disturbing when I change styles, I do have a favourite style which is palette knife painting but sometimes I need to do something different, why should I stick with one style or medium? Im an artist after all, I need to experiment, to play, to discover, a child doesn’t stick to one colour so to speak, they play with all sorts of colours and mediums, its normal and natural. The longer I explore my favourite style, the better I seem to get at mastering its own intricacies and challenges. For example: How can I remain loosely impressionistic and at the same time render something recognizable, interesting and appealing. This has forced me to look closely at the most essential elements and it always amazes me how much there is to learn in this regard; sometimes it feels like I’m on a voyage because so many things have happened along the way. Maybe that’s why my style didn’t start emerging until I had done almost 100 paintings. In my view, the only thing that will bring out your style is to keep on painting; at one point your imagination and experience will merge into a style very much your own.

There are so many different styles I like to paint. I think that we should just paint whatever we want and choose the style that you love the most as your main style, but be free to use other styles especially when using other mediums. For instance, when I use oils I love to use the palette knife and create impasto impressionist art, but when I use acrylic I tend to do more of a realistic style, but sometimes abstract, with watercolour I can be very loose but sometimes very detailed. It all comes down to how you feel in the moment and what it is you want to do.

I think I’ll just keep on doing what I’m doing and see how it all works out on it’s own. Part of the challenge is defining your work (who you are) and that involves study (I know…as if you didn’t have enough already). However, you can learn a lot about yourself (your style) by studying the works of other artists and art in general. Its good to have mentors, other artist whose work you admire, they can really help you develop your own style, by knowing what you love.

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