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How do you discover your unique style?

(Bonnie Breeden) #1

I’ve been painting for two and a half years, and I still haven’t discovered what I recognize in other artists as my unique identifiable style. I can look at a painting and say “That’s a Leatha Frost” or “There’s a Carol Marine!” I am still playing with oil vs. acrylic as well as real life vs. abstract. Every painting is different. Does anyone have any recommendations or stories as to how you settled into your own style of painting?

(Ken Rice) #2

Hi Bonnie, I think arguably you do have a style all of your own, you may just not recognise it. The way you lay down paint will be unique to you. After painting for years the way you paint will have consolidated, and maybe then you will see your style.

I did a two year illustration course where I was convinced that I didn’t have a style - the other students seemed to have an obvious style that stood out a mile. On saying this to one of the students I was told that I did indeed have a style, I was just too close to my work to see it.

(Anne Wood) #3

Try to forget about looking for your unique ‘style’…you will suddenly realise you have one. It will find you.

(Bonnie Breeden) #4

Thanks, Ken and Anne. I like the idea that my style will find me! One problem is that painting at this point is a hobby that I do not have time to do very often. I read Carol Marine’s book about daily painting. Maybe one day I will get to spend more time doing what I love!

(Mary Ellen Koser) #5

I’m still in the “what is my style” stage after way more than two years. I guess the answer for both of us is to just keep painting. I wanted to let you know that you are not alone in this no style land.:slight_smile:

(Anne Wood) #6

I have Carol’s book and after reading her story I decided to paint daily. Since I have…about four years ago now, I am quite amazed how my work has moved on. It isn’t always easy to fit in with other jobs/commitments but once I started I found I made time to do it.

At the same time I started a daily blog. Knowing I have to post something daily keeps me on my toes.

However, I understand if others cannot do it yet or even
want to. I am retired now and my children are grown up. It does make a difference. For me…daily is the way forward.

(Andrea Jeris) #7

Painting every day certainly helped me. My style emerged. I used to think I needed at least 3 hours to be able to paint. Now if I have a half an hour to go in my studio I jump in there. You must have an area where you can keep your art set up so you can steal away at a moments notice and grab some time for your art! I started getting up early and painting before work. Totally worth it! Now I’m retired and can paint all day. YAY!

(David Kuhn) #8


“Style essentially appeared out of what I liked to do.” - Robert Genn

“One develops style as selected preferences for each creative choice.” - Scott Menaul

(Trisha Adams) #9

Bonnie, play is important to finding your style - which you are already doing. That’s where you are not painting as so-and-so instructed, but trying different things out and you have a greater chance to come up with something unique. You just need to decide which of the things you create was the most fun and gives you the most joy when you look at it.

As Andrea Jeris and Anne Wood said, painting every day is critical. When I decided to paint, I began cutting out other things that consumed my time. I got rid of my chickens and goats. I stopped making soap and going to the farmers’ market. You get the idea.
If you want it enough, you will find the time. Carol Marine had a small child and she managed to paint during nap time. Lisa Daria paints an hour every morning before work. Put painting on your schedule, preferably a routine. Call it an appointment so people don’t ask you to skip it. :wink:

Trisha Adams

(Bonnie Breeden) #10

Trisha, I visited your website. Your work is BEAUTIFUL!! I’m honored that you would take time to give me such encouraging words. I’m off to paint!

(Randal Huiskens) #11

There are two main schools of thought… one is what the business side of the art world seems to demand, that you have a unique and identifiable style, and your paintings are immediately recognizable. The other, which I was taught in art school, is that you continue to develop as an artist, and NEVER settle for developing a style and then sticking with it without progressing beyond it into new areas.

The recognizable style can be a trap as well, in that once you become known for a style, people will not accept your work if you decide to vary from it. I have a “signature style” that i developed building upon the work of Chuck Close, but I refuse to be bound to it, and continually, from time to time, work entirely against it, doing work that doesn’t even look like my “usual” work.

I agree with most of the other people on this board, in that a style will find you if you just keep painting, but I would urge you to continually develop as an artist. if you look at the history of famous modern painters, you will find that many of them moved from one style into another as their careers progressed. Art is a journey, and a journey can’t be continued if you stop in one place…

(Sunny Avocado) #12

Always planned on doing that…but am actually going to start now. I let it slip away from me. But your encouraging words affected me too! Thanks!