Shopping for a Style
One of the top ten questions in creative art classes is "How can I develop a style?" The bad news is you can't pick a style any more than you can choose a new personality. You can copy someone else's style and some artists are really good at this. But that isn't authentic style.
Your true style is like your handwriting. After you learn to form the letters of
the alphabet and make them into words, your handwriting takes on a life of its
own, influenced by your personality, physical energy and circumstances. You
don't even think about it. And if you deliberately try to change, it may
deteriorate beyond repair. I know, because I tried. My sixth grade teacher
didn't like the slope of my natural handwriting, so she forced me to write
"backhand." As a result my handwriting became an illegible scribble. So I took
myself in hand and taught myself rudimentary Italic writing. For awhile my
handwriting was fantastic. But when I let down my guard, I slipped back into my
old ways, and now I can only say my editors are grateful for my computer and
The good news is–you have within you the resources for a unique
artistic style. But you have to let it find you. Read that sentence again. Your
style finds you. You don't magically find your style. Style is the imprint of
your personality–your spirit–on your art. It comes about as a result of your
experience, as well as your choice of materials and the way you handle them.
Style doesn't happen in a flash. It evolves over a long period of time. The only
thing that can stop it is your determination to master a style that might be
totally wrong for you. Don't force style, or you'll never cultivate one.
Even beginners have a style. After a couple of weeks of basic watercolor classes, I
see differences in the way each student handles the brush, applies a wash, mixes
color. It's important for a teacher to notice and encourage these differences,
not to insist on a single "right" way of doing things. In time, when you hang a
collection of your work, people will say they recognize your style. This may
come as a shock to you, because you think you don't have a style. Well, you do,
and it is always hovering somewhere under the surface, looking for a way out.
Yes, style can change, but it's usually a gradual change, not a big jump.
Try many things and see what works best for you. Keep on doing it. Don't paint by
imitation. Make every artwork a statement revealing something of yourself and
choose the materials and methods that best express what you want to say. Tell
your story your way–no one else can do this for you. Believe in the value of
what you have to say.
"The artist must have something to say, for mastery overThank you, Nita!
form is not his goal but rather the adapting of form to its inner meaning
....That is beautiful which is produced by the inner need, which springs from
the soul." Wassily Kandinsky
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
I happened upon Nita Leland's blog yesterday and this entry speaks to me and my search for my artist voice ...