What’s YOUR Style? by Wilson Bickford
As an art instructor, I often hear the lament of students stating that, “I don’t have a style,” or “My work doesn’t look like ME.”
Though we’ve all heard it before, the old saying, Don’t worry about finding your style, your style will find YOU, is very true.
In the beginning, most aspiring painters learn by copying. Let’s face it,……. there’s not one of us who can plead innocence on this. And that’s okay.
We learn by doing and by seeing what other artists do to create their unique effects. I truly think this is the best approach when starting out.
However, you will eventually come to a place where you’re ready to “solo” and you try those first few paintings all on your own from an idea that YOU conceived. Yes, this can certainly be frustrating, but how you work your way through those paintings is the basis of your “style.” The decisions that you make are what make that painting your OWN and what puts your personal stamp on it. As you progress, you will rely on certain techniques and approaches which are comfortable for you and give you the desired result. Then, guess what? You will have a style; one to call your own.
That’s not to say that you can’t dabble in a few different variations of styles and genres. With enough experience, you will be able to work looser or tighter, depending on your desired result and your mood.
While I’m more of a “realist” than anything, there are times when I feel I want to loosen up a bit and be more impressionistic. That’s when I put my brushes aside and get out my painting knives.
As an example, I have included two of my paintings to stress my point.
The Calla Lilies were obviously rendered with brushes in a more traditional manner, utilizing glazing, scumbling, etc. A rather slick interpretation.
The barn on the other hand was created solely with a couple of painting knives. Pretty much the total opposite of the spectrum from the flowers, isn’t it?
To most viewers, I’m sure they would assume that it was two paintings by two different artists. Nope, just one guy with a couple of opposing approaches.
In the end, the question is,……………. do we really need a specific style?
I don’t think so. In fact, I think it’s a bad idea to get pigeon-holed into being anything predictable.
Yes, there are those who will disagree and say that your buying customers want to purchase the work that you’re “known for.”
The bottom line is that you should paint for yourself first. Just don’t be afraid to mix things up once in a while.
Do it with conviction, do it with enthusiasm and do it with style!!
Once your style (or styles) has found you, your audience will follow.