I frequently get this question: how do I find my style? Finding your style ultimately comes down to doing reams of painting. It’s in the doing that you will find your style.
Remember when you were a kid and you practised your signature over and over and over? Do you remember trying out different curls or slanted lines and trying to express something of yourself in them? And eventually, your personal signature emerged right? And it’s likely been the same over the years with perhaps a few tweaks here and there. Just the same as with your handwriting which really is all yours.
Finding your style is the same. You practise, you paint, you draw, you paint some more. That’s it! But yes, there’s more to it so let’s get into that.
I wrote a whole blog about this over on HowToPastel. There you’ll find a YouTube video with 10 ideas to get you working on finding your style.
In his article about finding your style, Artist George Gallo looks to the American Impressionists masters of the past, for example, William Merritt Chase, John Henry Twachtman, Edward Willis Redfield, and Daniel Garber, whose unique work (and style!) can be instantly spotted. Gallo asks: How did these great artists find their own voices? They did it, says Gallo, “by trying to arrive at the truth. In their writings, they admit that some of their efforts were clumsy. But even their clumsy efforts are far more interesting than their overly slick counterparts.”
Gallo notes that “Painting from life was one of the things these masters had in common.” He adds something else they all have in common: “All of them also painted very large canvases outdoors. They did this for many reasons, one of which I’m sure is that large paintings just look impressive. But more importantly, they actually did it in part to lose control.”
Gallo goes on to expand on this idea and why this idea of “losing control” is such a good thing when it comes to finding your style. Make sure to read this fascinating article on Outdoor Painter here.
In your search to find your style, you may find this article by Fred Danzinger liberating! In it, the artist talks about the idea that we are always encouraged to “establish an identity.” I’d say this is similar to the question of finding your style – as if to say you only have one style within you. Danzinger argues against this idea saying although it’s “probably solid advice” that it didn’t work for him.
As he says, “The theory is that artists become “known” by becoming identified with one thing, like Edward Hopper’s lonely, geometric interiors, or Wayne Thiebaud’s luscious pastries, for example. Artists who “jump around” aesthetically can be seen as not yet having “found themselves,” or being “trendy.”
Danzinger’s argument is that “There are simply too many amazing things in the world to limit myself in any way. Every time I begin to settle into one identifiable “niche,” I see something vastly different that I want to paint — a face, a street light casting an amazing shadow on a brick wall, or a pile of shells at low tide — and I have to paint it! It may or may not fit into things I’ve been doing, either as subject matter or point of view, but it won’t let me go until it is on a canvas!”
Although gallerists have encouraged him to be “more consistent” as in, painting in the same style and perhaps painting the same subject matter, Danzinger defines consistency in a different way. Go read the whole article on RealismToday to find out what it is!
Have a look at the next two paintings to see two instances of Danzinger’s style. Please note the size difference!
I hope some of these thoughts help you answer the age-old question of finding your style!
If you’re looking for more inspiration, do check out this helpful video by Steve Curry on the very subject of finding your voice aka style.
November PleinAir Salon Honourable Mentions
Speaking of style, here are two Honourable Mention pastel winners from the November PleinAirSalon whose style is completely different from each other.
Jacob Aguiar won a Plein Air Pastel Honourable Mention for his painting, “Bighorn Brook,” a 12 x 9 in pastel.
Debb Bates took the Drawing Honourable Mention for her pastel of “Sweet Addison.”
There’s still time to enter the January competition!
And that’s it for this time!
PS. Today just happens to be National Handwriting Day. Why not use the day to drop a handwritten note of thanks or appreciation or greeting to someone?