Posted in Art and Artists, Notes, Practice, Research & Reflection

Developing Artistic Style

This particular journey started whilst touring Pinterest. It is something I have come to realise that I need to do previously, but in a fairly abstract way rather than considering a research-based approach. This is a theme that keep recurring, as in “Newman made Pagan Void two years before he discovered his artistic direction. Like many of his peers, he was interested in Native American art and Surrealism, influences visible in the biomorphic shapes in this abstraction.” (From, part of the “In the Studio: Postwar Abstract Painting!” course about Barnett Newman. You may have to sign up to view the material, URL Viewed 05 April 2017) This sort of reference occurs many times, and I have observed it in a number of artists. The concept seems to be that an artist tries lots of different approaches and techniques until the find something that they focus on and really get involved with.

In my own case, I started on wood carving. Lots of different subjects, sizes and styles. I’ve tried creating casts from these – not very successfully. I’ve tried other ways of creating sculpture, and now I’m trying to develop my drawing skills. This course is getting me to try a wider range of materials and techniques as one of its objectives. Charcoal, Pastels, Electronic Art and Conte to identify just a few. Where should I settle? Where should I focus, at least for a while? I understand that to really get the best out of my work I do need to choose a focus and keep with it for a while.

Annie Peaker, for example, has a few subjects (African women, Models, children, a few animals) and range of sizes that she has developed over a 30 year career. She has developed these and built a reputation on them over that time. She has deliberately chosen commercially accessible subjects, and has created vast numbers of them over the years. Some artists choose one style, then move onto another a few years later and so on. When they shift their will be a period of “Oh, you’re the artist that used to do such good…” before the new approach beds down. Bill Prickett is going through such a transition at the moment, as he shifts from realistic bird of prey work through to a more stylised and abstracted base.

So how do you start to develop an “artistic style”, which I think is closely related to the concept of “voice” on the course? I started, as I so often do, with a search for interesting material using Google.

Relevant articles of interest:

10 Ways to Develop Your Own Artistic Style:
Developing Style:
4 Steps to Your Own Signature Art Style:
Ask the Art Prof: How Do You Find Your Own Individual Art Style?:
7 Steps to Finding Your Style:

This is clearly not an exhaustive list of material on the subject, but between them they have given me a start point.

This comes out to:

  1. Critically consider art that you like, and don’t like, over a wide range of artists;
    Think in terms of “Artistic Elements” – such as subject, proportions, technique, format, line, colour etc.
  2. Consider techniques, processes and approach.
  3. Identify things that resonate with you, what you might want to do, and how it fits with your context as an artist.
  4. Consider how “Commercial” the result might be. Is there a Market for it?
  5. Write it all down, concentrating on a brief statement of individuality.
  6. Make some things and reflect on the results and repeat. Sketchbooks, experimental pieces and so forth are all relevant here.
  7. Keep going at it, and mix it up every so often.

So how does all of this feedback to my initial observations? So how does all of this feedback to my initial observations? I think that might be the subject of later posts…

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