Your style will be based on things like your lighting, color choice, brush or pencil stroke type, the way you blend (or don’t blend), how realistic or non-realistic the work is, and the subject matter or common themes. But most importantly it will be BASED ON WHAT YOU LIKE. YOU! Not what others like. What YOU like.

YOU are the CORE of your style. We often don’t trust our own taste. We’re too influenced by what other people like. You’re an artist, your personal taste DEFINES you. Don’t fight it or force it to change to what others tell you is popular.

Years ago a good friend told me that if I just painted “normal” landscapes I would sell more than my surreal landscapes.

I’m not saying your friends are trying to be rude (although one time Kyle did yell at me because I didn’t banish a demon fast enough in world of warcraft)

I would have been just like every other landscape artist. Not only was that not something I was passionate about but I would also have been lost in the sea of thousands of others painting landscapes.

If that is the style you’re excited about, fine, but if it’s because you think it’s popular, you’re just one of the thousands (millions?) trying to do the exact same thing. Not a great way to stand out. Don’t let others dictate your style.

How do you FIND that style? Start paying close attention to what it is you like from other artists! This step is both fun and motivating!! Instagram and Pinterest are helpful here. You can “save” posts you like. Just create a folder of art that inspires you. If you save enough posts or photos you should start to see what you like emerge.

Once you’ve started to see a pattern in the things you like, you need to start applying it to and refining your own work. I’m not talking about copying other artists work, but being inspired by them.

Sometimes we start to focus too much on forcing a style. We have a hard time coming up with ideas for our chosen style goals. Do NOT let this slow you down! In these cases, just pick ANY reference photo and paint it. Copy it exactly if you want, don’t worry about a unique style all the time.

This is going to sharpen your technical skills that you can then apply to work that is more stylized later on. Don’t feel like everything you do has to be different and fit within your chosen style, there is having a style and there is limiting yourself based on that idea. When you get too worked up about creating something “different” you can go weeks or months not painting anything at all while trying to come up with the best ideas. DON’T DO THAT! Just go paint! Even “boring” ideas like a simple painting of a fork and a coffee cup can lead to something more creative. Don’t let the idea of creating a style slow down your technical skill growth.

“I really like the damask background, and realistic animals…but what if I combined part realistic animal AND part pop art?”

Some ideas will be awesome, some will need adjustments, and some you will never want to repeat again. You won’t know if you aren’t willing to paint some ugly paintings. Failure in your experiments means you’re taking the right risks and moving towards finding your style.

To define your style is to let what YOU like show through.

We all need to be reminded “Don’t drink the paint water”  and other fun artist sayings. 
Why not wear it on our clothes or coffee mugs to make sure we don’t forget.

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