Finding your own style: The internal struggle

At the time of writing this, I’m sitting at my desk. Really wanting to paint. I started a painting last night, but not really happy with it. I guess mostly because of the image, but also it’s frustrating me that I haven’t really developed a style that is intrinsically ‘ME’. There’s a lot of elements to style in an artwork, the medium, how you express yourself with mark making, and how you express yourself in terms of imagery. There are so many things to consider.

Stylistically I don’t know where I am yet. Sometimes it feels that my work is a bit of a clutter of too many different influences and my process needs to be distilled and refined. You may have noticed that I’ve gone to painting realistically, while my drawings still sometimes delve into a more imaginative psyche. Painting at the moment is still very new to me, so for now I’m trying to learn to control the medium by using paint as a means of observation into the real world. This is to better understand shape, form and light. Hopefully when I feel like I am “good” enough (happy with my level of skill) I will be able to combine the technical ability with the ideas and expression I have in my mind.

The other problem that arises is that maybe sticking to one style all the time is perhaps not a good thing? As a person we want to develop and grow and explore new things. Will this become apparent in the work? Will people still recognise YOUR mark?

I guess the only way to find your own style is to KEEP WORKING and hopefully some similar characteristics will start shining through that you can pick up on. Hopefully this finds me soon, but only time will tell.

How did you find your style of working? Let me know!

2 Responses to “Finding your own style: The internal struggle”

  1. Heya Sam!

    Very juicy question, and very relevant. Here’s my take on finding your own style.

    Your own style as an artist is intrinsically linked to you being able to nail down your own VOICE as a human being. Most people don’t realise this because getting to the core of who you are takes a lot of work, a lot of facing your own demons (like limiting beliefs, etc). This is relevant because until you clear your internal gunk, or at least become aware of it, you won’t really know what you’re all about as a human being and therefore, won’t be able to nail down your own voice and what you ultimately want to say to the world.

    A lot of artists, initially mistaken developing your own style as just technique and finding that “thing” that’ll make you different from the rest, and they study by looking outward -researching other artists’ style and what has gone before, then working out how you can be different. There’s a bit of that in developing your own style, but if that’s your only way to hone in on your voice then you’re missing the internal work, which is actually the most important. In short, too much observing other artists and their work, very little internal work = no strong voice, no own style.

    Which brings me to the internal work question: why do you want to paint? You gotta be honest with yourself on this one. Is it fame and fortune? Is it the hoochies and the fast cars? (lol) Whatever it is, be very clear with your intent. The ones who last are the ones who paint because they won’t be a normal person if they don’t, they just have to paint, like breathing. If you’re in that camp, congratulations, you have a lifetime of time to grow as an artist. Can you imagine? You have at least 4 more decades of painting to do. Can you imagine how much more your work will evolve by then?

    Now that you’re clear on that, ultimately, what do you want to say to the world? What story – unique to you, born with your own circumstances and own life’s experiences – do you want to tell? Everything under the sun has been told already, but none in the way from your own perspective. This is the hard work. In this area, don’t strategise, don’t try to be “great”, or you’ll fail. Hint: when you paint to give, whether it be to entertain, inspire, make someone’s day, etc. and not to take (to get praise), the world will give to you back. This is important because when you get your INTENT right, the rest is easy.

    So first, you get clear if you love to paint so much you won’t be a balanced person if you don’t. If you figure that out, then figure out what is it you can give to the world that only you, with your own perspective, can give, through your art. It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering or mother teresa like as well. For example with me, I have an internal world that is whimsical and magical and I like telling that story to people, and if I can add magic and inspiration to their day, then sweet. I see the world through rose tinted glasses and when I bring that out in my art, people respond to it. My buyers say the same thing, which to me is amazing, coz I don’t tell them it’s my intent, but they feel it.

    By the way, sincerity can be smelled by your viewers from your painting. I’ve tried both ways and I failed when I tried to be “great” years ago.

    Now, technique. This is where you observe your heroes. But only study their technique like light, shape, form and composition, then take the time to plug out of that and focus on your own shit, otherwise you’ll get too influenced by too many voices, then your own voice gets muddled.

    Hope this makes sense and hope this helps! If you have any more questions, feel free to email :) You’ll get there and you rock!

  2. Jessica says:

    That’s some damn good advice.

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