finding your style

You know, for the longest time I didn’t even think about having ‘a process’.

I just did what I felt like doing intuitively, and frequently ended up with paintings that looked like different artists had created them.

That bothered and confused me for quite a while.

Why wasn’t I consistent? It looked like I just dabbled and lacked clarity and focus.

Those things were probably true in the early days ~ of course I didn’t have clarity, I was just starting!

When I began taking classes from other artists, invariably their process would become my process, at least for the duration of the class and some time after.

That bothered me too. I didn’t want to paint like other artists. I wanted to paint like ME.

{I’m including some paintings in this post that I created as a result of observing another artist’s work or taking their class, so you can see what I mean. }

Holding Space before and after

The same painting, started in Flora Bowley’s class and finished over a year later on my own.

Eventually I saw that I could take techniques and ideas from those who taught and inspired me, and use them in ways that resulted in work that did look like mine.

My work might have shades of this teacher or that teacher for a while, and then gradually what came naturally to me would start to win through, so that I could use those new-to-me techniques but through the filter of what was unique to me.

I am not suggesting that it’s in any way bad to learn from other teachers and take on their style for a while.

It’s like trying on different clothes until you find the unique combination of pieces from different shops that add up to your own signature look, in which you feel the most comfortable, the most ‘you’.

a jug of wine

painting inspired by Robert Burridge

And it’s very common to see beginners picking up styles of other artists, especially if they’re taught by them, and essentially I think that’s natural, inevitable and a valid part of learning your own process.

I still do it myself to a degree when I take a class; it’s just the integration of what’s new and the transition back to ‘me’ is quicker now.

In my experience there are two fundamental aspects to finding your own style artistically ~ confidence and practice.

You gain the confidence by doing the practice.

If you just do a little, your style will likely stay close to those who’ve taught you, because your uniqueness hasn’t had time to start shining through yet.

But when you keep going, keep testing, keep practising, that’s when everything you’ve learned begins to evolve into something we haven’t seen before.

Three One

Created using Mati Rose’s book, Daring Adventures in Paint

Over the years I’ve built up an array of techniques and tools that I like to use, and to which I continue to add.

Some I’ve learned, some just sort of evolved, but added together they make my work look like my work. Mostly!

{From where I’m typing I can see four paintings that are not all that similar to each other, and yet there are common threads, and a certain ‘feel’ that is mine.}

So when it came to sharing my process with others, as I am in the online course I’m creating, I initially wasn’t at all sure I could transfer it into something anyone else could use.

While not having a specific process makes it less likely that people would end up making paintings like mine, it also means I am looking to create a framework where previously I didn’t think there was one!

three feathers

Inspired by the work of Karen Michel

It’s a fascinating process, picking apart something that feels completely intuitive to you and making it useable and useful for others.

It has shown me that not only do I indeed have a process of sorts, but that I can share it in such a way that encourages others to find their own from day one.

I can’t guarantee of course that there won’t be similarities, and it is, like anything, always a work in progress.

But what it will provide is a grounding in the basics, from which you will have a framework within which to establish your own unique style of making art, and gain the confidence to leap forward into practising and revealing your own unique process.


NEWSFLASH: If you’d like to learn a bit more about me and why I do what I do, and have a chance to win a copy of my book, pop over to Michelle’s lovely peaceful website and take a look at this interview I did with her last week. The giveaway is open til Sunday.