We always hear about how important it is to develop your own unique style as an artist, but how on earth do you get there? It can be really frustrating early on in your art career to feel like you need to "be known" for a certain look, but still uncertain what that look actually is. This is why creative play is SO important. For the last 2 years, I've had a "style". I could paint semi-realism; playing with color where I wanted and leaving a thick brushstroke or two. It was truly beautiful, but I wanted there to be something more. I thought, "okay, this is what my hands naturally create. This must be my thing", but that's not necessarily the case. This is my foundation, and there is so much room to grow from there. I grew up as a dancer, and we were always taught that ballet is the foundation. It encompasses every other style. So first, you should learn the rules and proper techniques and then you know how and when it's okay to break them later. I feel like the same principles apply to painting - at least for me. I started off needing to prove to myself (and the world) that I CAN paint. I can capture the details in front of me in beautiful realism, and now that I know how to do that, I can continue searching for the kind of creation that is uniquely mine.
The truth is, I thought realism was that thing until I randomly decided to order a box of Sennelier oil pastels (I started out with this set). The consistency was so different from what I was used to and literally forced me to paint with looser brushstrokes. The lack of control felt a little unnerving at first, but as I continued to play, I learned that I could apply the same principles I had used with a paint brush... just in a slightly different manner. The medium itself was manipulating my style, and I LOVED it. That was this January, and since then I've devoted my practice to more creative play with this new medium. And my starting to mature because of it. I've had a vision in my head for so long, and my hands are finally able to bring that out on paper. I don't think it would have happened had I not broken the routine I was used to, and experimented with a new medium. It's actually really interesting to look back at my work over the last 2 years. It feels like I was searching for this. I was trying to bring that vision to life in oil, then acrylic, and I'd get close, and something lovely would come as a result, but it still didn't feel right.
Let's take a look at the progression shall we? These aren't necessarily in chronological order. I would usually try a style, go back to more realistic, try another style and so on, but I think this is so cool to look at because it shows I have been searching and working towards something specific. It gets closer and closer every time.
And that brings us to "Field & Flower": a collection of oil pastel paintings that I'm currently working on (and set to be released Tuesday, August 17, 2021). These paintings are the closest I've ever felt to a style that is uniquely mine, and it is a beautiful feeling. They have resulted from so much creative play, and I am so proud of them.
I'm not saying this is where it stops. An art career is something that is ever growing and changing, but I think I'm on the right path. So I strongly encourage you, especially if you're towards the beginning of your art career, put down those materials you're comfortable with and try something that seems totally out of your wheelhouse! It may take a few tries, and really, it might fail all together, but that's totally fine! Regardless you are going to learn so much about yourself and your artistic vision. Want to learn more about developing your unique artistic style?
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