Friday, December 9, 2016

Individual Style


        We all begin as fledgling artists taking classes and struggling to master a new vocabulary, new skills and all sorts of materials. Hopefully, we progress to more competent and capable artists experimenting endlessly to develop our own personal style.
        Since early in my painting education (with a variety of excellent teachers) I have kept a journal of my "Eureka!" Moments -- when something I had heard hundreds of times finally made sense.  Reading back over my journal periodically has been a regular part of my art experience.  Each time I read it, I learn something new because I'm at a different level than I was before.
As I read through the journal today, it dawned on me that I finally know what my style is.  It is a distillation of all the information that is percolating in my brain as I listen to other artists, read art books, visit museums and explore dozens of different media combined with the experiences of a lifetime.  It doesn't matter if I paint exactly the same scene as a dozen other artists, the end result will be uniquely my own.  What do all of us have to gain from a realization like this one?  Stop worrying about developing your own style!  As you learn and as you practice your craft, your style will emerge -- it doesn't really have a choice.          
    Once we begin to recognize our personal style, it is key to intentionally cultivate it. Vincent Van Gogh's distinctive approach to painting evolved over time, as he experimented with different types of brush strokes and color palettes.  If we look at his works we see that developmental process.  If you place three of your artworks created over time side-by-side, what will you see?  As Alyson Stanfield says in The Art Biz Blog, [style is] "that extra little thing you do to distinguish your work from that of other artists." So, what's your extra little thing???

Van Gogh's Early Work
Height of Van Gogh's Career
One of His Last Paintings