When I first started dipping my toes {or fingers!} back into art after a period of several years, I naturally turned to other artists and teachers who I hoped would show me the way.

I took so many classes I can’t even remember them all, but I loved them! Sharing some time and space with like minded people, learning new ways to approach my art, being challenged beyond what felt comfortable at times; all these things enriched my life and my art deeply.

Except, every time I took a class, I’d come away with work that looked very similar indeed to the teacher’s. And that didn’t feel good.

To a degree I think this is inevitable. I also think it’s a natural and even important part of the process. Copying allows us to try out new styles, techniques, marks and colour combinations. It gives us a feel for what’s possible beyond our habitual ways, and so opens a door to greater skill and imagination.

But no one, or at least no one I’ve ever encountered, actually wants to paint exactly like someone else. Apart from issues of integrity and copyright, it’s also because art is a deeply personal form of self expression, and if you’re copying someone else you’re not letting yourself paint like YOU. A huge amount is lost in that, for you and for the rest of us.

The following are just some of things that I have gained in stepping away from ‘painting like the teacher’ and taking the time to explore how I do things:

  • confidence
  • consistency
  • deep satisfaction
  • happiness
  • clarity of expression
  • feeling centred
  • knowing myself better
  • courage
  • an experimental attitude
  • a feeling of expansion in myself
  • trust in myself

It’s a varied path, littered with ‘failed’ paintings and mess, and paintings that make me cringe now. But without those exact things, and the knowledge that I’ve carved out my own way, rather than stepping in the footprints of someone else’s path, my unique style and gifts would still be hidden away. And perhaps even more crucially, I would still feel a loss in myself.

I do feel more comfortable in myself when I make art now; I have built a stronger relationship with my materials, my ideas and processes that are unique to me, and that shows in my paintings. It’s an ongoing process, of course.

I suspect that, like me, you relish learning, and that’s why, also like me, you may already have quite a few courses under your belt at this point, and plans to take more! The learning never stops, but I do believe there’s a way to dive more deeply into your own style even when learning from someone else.

I want that for you, because all those benefits I just mentioned {and more}, although developed at the easel, will spill over into the rest of your life, and no one can teach you about how good that feels.

What one step could you take today towards digging out your unique painting style? I’d love to know what this would look like for you!

*******

If this is a subject that rings true for you, you might like to check out Abstractify, a course about finding ways – using approaches and techniques I’ve experimented with myself, with exciting and satisfying results – to uncover what painting like you really means for you.  You can find out more by clicking the image on the left, and because it’s instant access, you can enroll today!

 

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