Developing Artistic Style

Developing your personal artistic style can be fun with a little dedication and experimentation.

Once you know that all artist’s have a personal style, if you haven’t already, it’s time to develop a unique style. So where is the best place to start? Do you choose a topic to focus on? More than one topic? What about paint? Are you a watercolorist? Or maybe an acrylic painter? Oil may be your preferred medium. Pastel, charcoal, ink, the possibilities are endless. Then there is sculpture, ceramics, wood and more.

One of my favorite teachers, Ellen Soderquist in Dallas, TX said something to the effect of, “be sure you like what you choose as subject and medium because once people know and love what you are doing, it is hard to change.” In other words, choose something you don’t think you will get tired of. Does this mean you can never change? No, of course not. It means if you gain some success with a particular style you will probably want to continue with it. If you like what you are doing, then it won’t be difficult to continue. You’ll enjoy your art and so will other people.

  • Concentrate first on knowing what you like.
  • Test different materials and mediums.
  • Experiment.
  • Try out various subject matter or no subject, (abstract).
Oil Pastel

Now that you’ve narrowed down the medium and subject, it’s time to get to work. Christine Nishiyama, in a post on her blog,, says one way to develop your style is to make lots of art. She goes on to say that it is important to pay attention to any patterns or repeated elements you may notice developing in your work. When you see patterns or anything that repeats, focus on it. Spend more time working with those things that are repeating. See where they go. As Nishyama says, “Make lots of art.”

In a podcast for Laura Horn Art, Australian artist, Amica Whincop says she gave herself 6 months of painting everyday. That may be a bit stressful to put a goal that strict. A more casual goal might be to plan to spend some quality time making art for the next 6 months and see what develops. During that 6 months, you can experiment more with the different materials you have narrowed down, as well as subject matter. Take photos and look at them for comparison. Sometimes you see things in a photo that you don’t notice in the physical.

It’s important not to stress over any of this. The goal is to make art and enjoy the process. If it’s pushed to the point of becoming a burden, you will risk burn out.

So get going with your art making. Find what you like and run with it. Don’t think about it. Just do it and see what happens. You may come up with some interesting surprises. Think how exciting it will be when you begin to see your style emerging! Have fun! Happy painting!

Why Artistic Style?

A unique artistic style is something all artists have whether we know it or not.

A unique artistic style is something all artists have whether we know it or not. Some artists can be unsure what exactly is their personal style. Others may struggle with what they think their style ought to be. Seeing someone become successful with a particular style can trigger copycat attempts. Artists can think copying someone successful will make them successful too. Do you really have a personal style and why is that important?

One of the most important reasons for uncovering your style is your personal uniqueness. Your uniqueness is something that no one can completely duplicate. Gary Randall, in a post on his blog says, “Being unique is the best way to stand out in a crowd.” With all the many artists there are out there, we all need a way to cut away from the herd. Many people think copying the style of someone successful will make them successful too. Maybe, but not likely. The successful artist expressed something different from the crowd but copying that artist’s work does not mean copying their success. Instead look at what made that artist successful. What made that artist stand out?

Instead of copying, think more about why your own personal style matters. Pekoeblaze gives drawing artists three great reasons to develop a personal artistic style.

  • “Your drawings have more of a sense of ‘personality’.”
  • “Your work is a lot more recognizable.”
  • “Your drawings stand out and are more memorable.”

Who you are is the best thing about your art. Flaunt it! It’s great to learn from other artists. We all learn from each other. The difference is not to copy but to take pieces from each artist and add your own spin. When you copy, viewers know it. They may not realize they know it, they just know they don’t like what they are seeing. When you put your heart into your art, people sense it. No matter what your style is, that it is unique is what’s great about it.

Shakespeare knew what he was talking about when he said, “To thine own self, be true,” in a line from the play, Hamlet. He may not have been talking about art but it holds true for art, as well. When you sit down to paint next, think about your unique style. Then unleash it and let it rip!

Coming next week: Developing your personal style.

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