Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Developing Your Individual Style....

I have been on the road and consumed with a myriad of things lately and my Blog entries have taken a goal when I began blogging was to share the highs and lows of one artists' journey by relaying stories and anecdotes about this business of "being an artist". The article below was waiting for me in my in box this morning and mirrored exactly my belief about creating great art and achieving your personal success as an artist. I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I did!

Developing Your Individual Style
by Lori Woodward

Today's Post is by Lori Woodward, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. She is also a contributing editor for American Artist's Watercolor and Workshop magazines and she writes "The Artist's Life" blog on American Artists' Forum. Lori is a member of The Putney Painters, an invitational group that paints under the direction of Richard Schmid and Nancy Guzik. Find out how you can be a guest author.

I was going to write about art advertising this week, but as I was looking at a site called Art Renewal Org, I was hit with the realization that before we spend big bucks on ads and competitions, we artists need to feel both passionate and confident about the style and subject matter we choose.

Know Who You Are

The main idea that hit me -- there's no sense in building a body of work that satisfies another person's or group's passion. I was talking to another artist recently, who has been bewildered by taking a variety of classes with teachers who steered her in opposite directions. Now, there's nothing wrong with following a style of painting that a certain teacher advocates - as long as you adore that style.

We artists might be happier if we take time to find out who we are, what we love and journey down the path that will bring us the most satisfaction. I like to work somewhat realistically, and my favorite types of paintings are landscapes. I am able to paint portraiture and still life well too, but in order to be really happy as an artist, I might as well develop my skills in the area of subject matter that gives me the most joy, and work with my tools in a way that feeds who I am.

Be Who You Are

I have friends who paint abstractly. Nothing wrong with that!!! I admire artists who can intuitively create an intriguing abstract composition out of their head. In fact, there are lots of styles of art that I admire - I don't necessarily believe that there is only one school of valuable art. BUT, when it comes to my painting, I don't enjoy abstract or impressionistic painting as much as I do rendering details. I actually get bored working abstractly, while some of my friends would end up in the loony bin if they were forced to paint in the detailed style that I enjoy.

We're all different, and that's what makes art so much fun. For every kind of art, there is a collector. What I'm saying here is find out who you are as an artist, and try not to let others tell you what style you "need" to paint in. If you like using a small brush, by all means - use it. You are not a artistic sociopath if you like whittling away at details. The opposite is also true. If you abhor detail and must attack the canvas with a house- painting brush, go for it!

Sometimes, although not always, the easiest way to find out who you are or will be as an artist is to find out what kind of art you love to look at. Your tastes will probably change throughout the years, but knowing what speaks to you deeply is a great place to start. I regularly look through art magazines and tear out pages of work that stops me in my tracks.

For Every Type of Art, There are Collectors

It's important not to let negative or judgmental thoughts creep in while you're investigating your likes and dislikes. Often, while looking at artwork, internal thoughts like, "but people aren't buying that style now a days", or "I could make more money if I just painted like 'so and so'". This kind of thinking may lead to increased sales, but not to contentment, and if an artist isn't happy with his or her process -- why be an artist at all? Even commercial and portrait artists can develop their own style.

You can't please everyone anyway, so ignore all the worrisome thoughts that push you this way and that, and concentrate on what delights you. When you're sure of what that is, pursue it with all the energy you've got. Learn from masters of that style - past and present. Then when you've got a growing skill set, you're ready to develop your own statement and way of working. Something that is truly yours and will be recognized as your work even from across the room in a gallery. Remember, collectors like to see a thread of continuity throughout your body of work.

So next time you are wanting to follow your natural bent, ignore fleeting and worrisome thoughts that hold you back from doing that. We are artists, not trend chasers. It's entirely possible to make a living with any style of work, so why not let your individual preferences drive your work, not fads? You'll definitely be happier and most likely more successful in the long run.
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