Tips for Finding Your Own Style
A question that everyone asks themselves, 'How do I find my own style'. It's a tough question because everyone wants to be unique. The difficulty could be compared to looking at yourself in a mirror and asking 'how do I look'. You can't remove your mental image from your thoughts. The result is that you become blinded to yourself and your style. Take solace in the fact that you do have your own style, whether or not you like it. You have your own voice and you cannot change it. You can try to adjust it, but all you can be is the highest version of yourself. Your best work will come from your natural level of aptitude, which can be increased with practice. Here's some tips for your journey as an artist and person:
-Ask those close to you what they honestly think of your style. This could be positive or negative so brace yourself for an honest critique. They don't have to be an art expert to have good advice to give. Norman Rockwell was known to ask everyone for advice, even his postman. They can be your eyes when you become blind to your own work.
-Try out many different styles and figure out what works for you. Some things may work for others, but not satisfy you and vice versa. If you're an oil painter, you'll have to figure out what colors, brushes, canvas and media work for you. This is a long process, which never comes to an end. There's no shortcut for this, you'll have to try out everything on your own. Get used to having more questions than answers.
-Keep a diary and put dates on all of your work, sketches and finished work. This way you can track your progress. When you feel discouraged and lost, then look back at your old work or read your old diary. You may find that your old style is better than your current style; this is natural as you feel a sense of nostalgia. Also, progress is never steady and often times goes backwards and forwards randomly.
-Look at artists you admire and ask yourself 'why do I admire them'. This is a crucial point. As an artist and human, you are a sponge which absorbs. Because of this, you'll pick up style from artists and people whom you surround yourself with. This is natural, but you should always ask yourself what it is about that artist which you admire. Maybe you like their color usage, but you don't like their brushwork. You should begin learning from other artists. 'No man is an island'.
*As a side note, this also works negatively. If you surround yourself with people and artists you don't admire, you'll still absorb them.
-Lastly, Focus on your inner message. This is the toughest one. Every great artist, with a style you like, was simply trying to convey a message. They weren't contemplating their brushwork or signature technique. It sounds simple, but the greatest art is created through inspiration. Walk outside and be inspired by something, then paint it. Keep practicing and showing that you care.
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