by Fiona Valentine
Want to know the best way to find your unique artistic style as an artist? Be yourself. I know. Rocket science, right? Sometimes, we forget to pay attention to the obvious. In this blog post I’ll show you how to look for simple clues on YOUR unique style.
Getting to really know ourselves is a life long journey. It can be really meaningful to take some time out and take a good look at where you’ve been, who you are and how that contributes to the art you want to make. So, let’s have some fun with this!
You might need a cup of tea and a notebook. This article isn't that long, but be warned, you may find yourself staring out the window lost in thought. Are you ready?
CLUE TO YOUR UNIQUE ARTISTIC STYLE #1
WHAT DO YOU LIKE?
What do you most like to do?
“I would love to..."
Just finish the sentence. It might be travel, It might be a skill, it might be doing something with a friend, Maybe a romantic dinner or those crazy red shoes you’ve wanted forever. It might be a way of being, even a spiritual yearning. Just write down anything that comes to mind.
Sometimes I hear art students expressing where they think they need to improve and it feels like they are trying to remake their personality rather than tune in to what comes naturally. If you are impulsive, impatient, gregarious and colourful a chunky, loose painting style might be just your thing. If order, neatness and attention to detail are your usual way of life, it’s probably going to show up in more detailed artwork and you’ll really enjoy that process. Both styles are amazing. Just try to figure out you.
A loose, chunky, impressionistic painter might need some work on their drawing skills and accuracy. A naturally detailed painter might need to practice letting go. Only to improve THEIR style, not to try to adopt a style that is the polar opposite of their natural, unique person. Make sense?
Opposites do attract, but we’re talking about uncovering YOU here, not becoming someone you are not. You matter. You have something unique to bring to the world. Our work here is to reveal and equip the YOU that is authentic.
CLUE TO YOUR UNIQUE ARTISTIC STYLE #2
WHAT DO YOU CARE ABOUT?
Painting subjects generally get divided into three basic categories.
We could include within these categories seascapes, cityscapes, wildlife, interiors and floral paintings.
Natural history and botanical painting are other categories within these basic break downs. Some of these categories probably draw you more than others.
This is a clue! Notice the art you like and the art you hate. I know it’s kind of obvious, but sometimes it makes a difference to pay attention specifically AS A CLUE TO YOUR OWN STYLE rather than just enjoying a visit to a gallery or considering purchasing a painting.
But let’s dive deeper into your story.
These all have a part to play in the things that matter to you.
Is there anything you do now that really brings you joy? Indoors or out? Weather. Seasons. A clock or jug or carpet that says “home”? An adventure that calls?
What do you want your art to say?
Maybe it’s a response to the outdoors, a favourite place, the bracing feel of the wind by the sea.
Perhaps a particular culture has really stolen your heart or was a place you lived during your childhood. There isn’t a right or wrong answer, but when you are thinking about what to paint or stumble across a subject or scene, be aware of what you FEEL. Capturing this feeling is a super important part of inspiration. Most artists don't feel inspired with every brushstroke. As artist Joe Attard says, "inspiration, then perspiration" Capture your feeling, then the work starts to express that feeling with good design and technique.
What do you feel strongly about in life? Are their causes, values, experiences, stories, emotions or moods that are important to you? Where do your feelings about life and your most intense experiences of place, fun, joy, grief overlap with what you feel about particular subjects. Can you connect the dots?
If you had to name the top three values and beliefs that are important to you in life, what would they be? What about your top 10? Are these shaped by your story? Your faith? Your culture? Your travels? What experiences affect these beliefs?
OK, that was a lot of questions! But do you see how much material you have to work with here? You are way more interesting than you think. Your ability to draw on your story and experience is going to be part of the secret sauce that you bring to your art because NO ONE has the combination you have. There are people out there who will be moved by the art that only you can make. Really. Your life and story and interests matter.
CLUE TO YOUR UNIQUE ARTISTIC STYLE #3
CATCH YOURSELF WHEN YOU AREN"T TRYING
What do you wish you could stay home and do? Go out and do? Do with your best friend? What would your family say is your favourite thing to do? What haven’t you let your self do yet?
Any unindulged long term desires for playing the piano or climbing a mountain or learning to cook in the south of France or grow vegetables ?
You might find asking friends these questions and answering them for each other is a fun, enlightening, perhaps even cathartic way to approach this!
Honestly, good painting is so much about planning and preparation so don’t skip the good stuff. Diving deep into your “why” and “what” will make for paintings that reflect you in a way that really speaks to people.
It’s not so much about feeling inspired every step of the process as much as digging in to what has inspired/ interested/ shaped you in your life and exploring those things.
Figure out a way to find or create references based on the things you are inspired by and watch what happens. You might find inspiration sneaks up on you, but it’s ok to plan it, too. Head to a location you love in the type of weather you picture in your mind’s eye and see if you can capture that inspiring angle.
To help you catch some of these clues to your unique artistic style, I’ve put together a quiz that’s fun and fast to help you dig into simple likes and dislikes. It will help you hone in on the subject and style that makes sense for you and get you thinking about how to create art that is uniquely you. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!
You can grab the quiz here.
Hi, I'm Fiona. I'm an artist and creative coach. I help aspiring artists build a creative habit and conquer the basics of painting so they can make beautiful art.
You have more than enough creativity and talent. You need knowledge, practice and a creative process that really works.
I'm here to help!