What is Your Painting Style?

written by Sophie | Beginners, Thoughts on Art

How do you find your own painting style? what is your painting style? Is there any way to make sure you have it?

Many beginning artists are concerned about finding their own style. They are keen to get to that famous concept and want  people to recognise their work by it. They ask more experienced artists for advice and wonder how they ever found their style.

So how do you find your style? What is your painting style? Can you actually find it, or do you need to create it? Should we strive for it?

What is your Style

When people talk about a painter’s style, they generally mean the particular way an artist works . Your style is your voice, your language, you dialect, your taste, your handwriting. And nobody’s particular way of painting is exactly the same as somebody else’s. So pretty much everyone’s style is unique and personal. Many ways of painting, however, are quite close to each other in approach or colouring or techniques and hence we often see styles grouped together, especially in art history.

Should I try and Find my Style?

No. I really believe it is counter productive to look for your own style. Many people believe having a style means working in certain colours, painting a certain topic, or working at a certain point between realism and abstraction. Finding a style, then, is not something anyone should pursue. It would be contrived, mannered, and not come across as genuine.

Grow and Develop

In order to come to a stage where others might describe your work by your personal artistic style, you need to just work, develop and grow. You simply cannot know what sort of an adult painter you will be when you have only just started taking baby steps into the world of painting.

Beginning artists often experiment and explore topics, materials, colours and techniques (as do many advanced artists). This is a great thing. It will help you find your favourite ways – your voice, and yes, indeed, your style. So if you are keen to have a style (even though you cannot possibly know what it will be) I think we should just keep painting and keep an open mind for new ways and new ideas.

Thousands of Painting Hours Later…

Over time -a lot of painting time- your favourite ways, techniques, colours and brushes will emerge. You will use these ways more and more and perfect them in your own unique way. This takes time. And these ways and techniques and materials will be visible to some knowing eyes. They might recognise your voice in your work, whether you have painted a floral still life or a seascape, whether you change your materials or not.

So perhaps one day you will find your style , but you can never know it and aim for it before you have found it.

Your own Visual Language

Even when you keep on experimenting as a seasoned painter,  and you might have developed your own visual language over time, a new medium or tool will not really shift this unique language off its axis, but merely adjusts its direction.

Styles are never restricted to subject matter, medium or tools. Your style is your language – it can speak on all topics. You can play with your language and try out new ways of using it, new forms to put it in, and see where it leads. Your style is simply you. And you will (hopefully) change, grow and develop over time. Your style will too.

Your painting style is so intrinsically connected with you, that there is no way to look for it, or aim for it when you are starting out with painting.

If you want to be known for your dark monochrome landscapes and want that to be your recognisable style, you would restrict yourself immensely. What if ever you fancy doing some bold floral works? Would you not be able to allow yourself as it is not within your style?  You can never aim for your style before knowing what it is.

Do not fall into the trap of letting your lack of skills define your style. If you cannot draw faces well, don’t let crooked faces be your signature style but simply fill the gaps in your techniques with experience and learning.

Follow your Gut

Do not look for your style. Just follow your heart, your gut, your inspiration or whatever you want to call it. Try out new things that interest you, say what you want to say in your work, and get better at it. Who cares about style anyway? You are the unique voice that binds all your work and your journey together.

If others cannot find a binding ingredient in all your work and say there is no certain style, then so what? The answer is not to limit yourself to just painting seascapes in order to satisfy their criticism. We must be careful that our ‘style’ does not become the synonym for us repeating the same stuff over and over again. The answer is to keep on doing what you want to do.

Having a style does not mean you only paint the same topics or in the same colour palette. A style is much wider and bigger than that and is not something we as artists should aim to fulfill. It evolves and grows with us and is not for us to plan or map out.

Your Style is You

So, you simply cannot look for your personal artistic style, except by experimenting, developing and simply living your life.  Your favourite ways and means of artistically expressing yourself will grow and develop as will you. It will change and move away, it is your home and and then you move. Your style is you. You will never stay the same. Your challenge is to find a way to best express yourself and once you settle into a certain way of doing that, others might call that ‘your style’. But then you move…

Ignore Style

So ignore the idea of style. Especially if you are a beginning artist. Style is not something you should aim for. Work on your technical skills, find out what you like doing, what you’re good at, what resonates with people and what you want to work further on. That is what will get you moving on in your art. The idea of looking for your own style will only restrict you.

Leave the concept style to the art historians and the art critics. Leave your style to the gallery owner who will write about it in your first catalogue. But leave it out of the studio and just keep painting.

Published: September 19, 2017

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  1. Thank you, Sophie. So many people especially gallery owners insist on their artists being strait-jacketed into a tight signature style while I want to paint what appeals to me. I want to experiment with media and techniques and gain satisfaction from conquering new challenges. Your post reassures me.

    1. Hi Alan, thanks for your comment. I hope you’ll keep on doing what you want no matter what style it is in! Happy painting!

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