Ask any starting artist and this is pretty much the holy grail, the thing they’re looking for, the elusive concept, the thing that excites them and the thing that makes them despair….:
Developing your own style
I’ve been doing this art thing fairly seriously now for 2 years, and I still struggle with this on a daily basis. I can see glimpses sometimes and other times I’m like an impatient child stomping their feet: WHEN is it FINALLY going to HAPPEN?
So, while I’m having my own little personal struggle here, let me share with you these five tips to developing your own art style. Follow these top tips and I promise you, IT WILL HAPPEN. Bit by bit, your style will start to emerge. You won’t even notice it, but when you look back it will be there. All of a sudden people will say things like ‘I love your style!’ or ‘I knew that painting was yours!’ or you will recognise yourself the elements that make up your personal style.
Tip 1: Create A Series
Creating a series of paintings is a great way to hone your skill and practice doing the same thing but differently. Ways of approaching this could be to pick a certain colour scheme to work in and with a certain theme or subject. For example creating four paintings of doves and/or using the same 3-4 colours in each painting. You could also do something more abstract with a similar colour scheme and similar shapes across the pieces.
When creating a series it can be helpful to work on all paintings at the same time. This will help make things easier with achieving consistency across the paintings.
Tip 2: Do A Challenge
The thing that kickstarted my creativity big time was joining the Art 101 challenge . I joined a group of people who were all going to complete a certain number of paintings within 101 days. Having an achievable goal in mind and a timeframe within which to do it can be great motivation. Practice and simply DOING IT is such a big part of developing your style, and doing a challenge really helps you get down and do it. Get together with other people to support each other and hold each other accountable.
Formats you can consider for challenges are things like: create x number of paintings in y days / 10 minutes of sketching every day / draw one face a day for 100 days
Tip 3: Notice Your Likes & Dislikes
What is it you enjoy drawing or painting? Are you really drawn to certain subject matter, shapes or colours? You can analyse your own work and then build on it. If you see yourself doing and enjoying certain things, start amplifying those things and do them consciously.
For me I LOVE creating faces. Then within the faces I notice more things that I like doing, like where I enjoy placement of the features (e.g. mouth low in the face, nearly no chin) or what shape eyes I like to paint.
This can also relate to certain types of art supplies or techniques. Anything that you love working with and would like to do again and again.
Conversely if you notice yourself not enjoying things, then don’t feel like you need to do them. Don’t create the expectation that your work needs to include elements or techniques that you don’t actually enjoy. For me that might be lots of doodles or trying to make things very realistic.
Tip 4: Develop Your Personal Imagery
We all have our own personal story. Certain subjects or symbols might deeply resonate with us and it is helpful to sit down and have a think about that. These could be shapes, symbols, animals, plants, flowers etc. Anything that has a personal symbolic meaning to you could become part of the imagery that you draw from to create your paintings.
If you look at famous painters they usually have a very strong visual language. This is partly the thing that makes their paintings recognisably theirs.
It can be helpful to compile a list of 5-10 things that are meaningful to you and that you want to have show up in your art. You can then even practice sketching them. For me a few recurring symbols are: teardrops, cypress trees/cat tails, spirals, crowns, rectangular buildings, blushing faces, sun bursts.
Tip 5: Study The Masters
Copy, copy, copy! Copying an existing work of art (this is called a study, and remember to ALWAYS give credit, whether the artist is super famous or whether it’s your next door neighbour (who may or may not be famous)) is an excellent way to practice technique.
Take a step back and analyse the different parts of the painting. Ask yourself how you would recreate something and how you would deviate from it if you were doing things ‘your way’. Set yourself a challenge to recreate someone else’s painting, but giving it your own spin (take your knowledge from the tips above).
Your style is within you. It’s waiting to emerge, but it needs practice and encouragement. It will develop, it will come out. Keep making art, keep showing up, keep sharing, keep on being you!
If you’re looking for more guidance to develop your own style, you’ll love Radiant: Art Journals. 15 teachers have prepared wonderfully in-depth lessons for you so you can spread your own creative wings in the safe space of your own art journal. I hope you will join us!
Are you looking to find your own art style? What is it you struggle with? Or are you a more established artist who has gone through this? What is your top tip? Share your thoughts with us below!