Tips for Developing an Artistic Style 1

“Good new art may not look like art. Inspiration doesn’t follow style, it creates it.”
– Darby Bannard

Developing an artistic style is often a silent, nagging concern that plagues an artist, because in essence it is the resistance that stands between each artist’s clear access and expression of her or his internal voice. Each decision when creating art works toward clearing the pathway to clarity. When an artist selects approaches to the use of line work, perspective, color theory, anatomy, color, shading and light, technique and texture, the culmination of these choices into a recognizable and repeatable pattern is an artistic style.

“After years of painting, drawing, sculpting or whatever, your style becomes you. You are your style. Inseparable, one and the same, no matter what you choose to create.”
– Sonja Donnelly

Many well-known artists have famously suggested that practice is the only effective path to developing an artistic style, but the advice is easier offered from the other side of the tremendous struggle. Like a mother after childbirth who forgets the difficulties of labor, an artist with a personal style is blissfully distanced from the growing pains of development.

For those artists that need exercises to stimulate growing a relationship with the blank canvas, a few approaches can stoke the creative fires.

  • Experiment: Attempt to create styles similar to the artists you admire, or use techniques that are opposite to the ones you ordinarily use. Push your boundaries. Use new equipment. If you usually paint on a smaller canvas on a a tabletop easel, start a detailed subject on a large canvas on a studio easel.

“Many a fine style has evolved from a decent handicap.”
– Robert Genn

  • Start a conversation: Talk to people about the art you are creating. Even if you are just starting out, discussing your impressions, preferences and plans may help you cultivate the next steps.
  • Cross study: Spend time learning about other subjects. Read books and magazines, watch documentaries and foreign films, tour museums and travel. Incorporating experiences into art subjects and visual impressions into their rendering can strengthen your creative identity.

“He has found his style, when he cannot do otherwise.”
– Paul Klee

  • Listen to music for inspiration: Try new genres, artists and decades to elicit emotions that promote new channels of expression. Encourage your color-sound association.

- Tamara C.

One thought on “Tips for Developing an Artistic Style

  • Reply
    Geoffrey Houghton

    It’s a hard to establish a style. Folks need to find a “groove” and flow with it. Early on, I was fascinated with the steampunk genre, then shifted towards more manga styles. Now that I have a direction, I can’t stop painting. :) I actually enjoy the process of the design, more than the execution of the painting itself.

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