So here is part two on Style. I want to preface this whole conversation (which I think will probably turn out to be quite rambling considering my current relationship with cold medication) with the warning that this is only my thoughts on style. This is how I got to where I am now -- it's not an exact formula on how to find your style, or the only way to go about it. One of the comments on the last style post was that style was something you had to develop over time, by doing lots of art. Yes, that helps -- but in a world where so many artists are part-time artists, does that mean that most artists will only find a style in their 80s, right about when they discover that their false teeth make intriguing still life subjects? Or perhaps never?
What a dismal thought.
Obviously I'm not in my 80s and I'm pretty pleased with my style. People can pick it out of a line-up, it feels like me, and it suits my subjects nicely. But it was not always that way! Are you ready for the stylistic story of a girl named Maggie? Too bad. I'm going to tell you anyway.
Once upon a time, there was a girl named Maggie. She doodled constantly and had high aspirations of becoming a Famous Artist. She sketched horses. She drew planes. She painted cars. She did it all.
And all of it looked different. Indeed, putting them side by side looked like the exhibition of a artistically-dedicated pencil-freak with multiple personalities. When faced with the idea of a style she said "poo poo on thee" for I'm multi-talented and if I can do all these styles, I will do them all, because I'm so smart. So there.
And that was almost where the story of me ended. Because the truth was, yes, I could paint and draw in a zillion different styles. But the truth was also that I wasn't selling anything, because hung together, it looked horribly amateurish. It looked cobbled together, like an art school portfolio of me playing at being seven different artists. I knew I needed a universal style, so I decided to force the issue.
I was selling on eBay at the time and I knew that bold, colorful pieces that looked good in thumbnail size sold well. So I designed a style that was just for eBay -- brilliant cityscapes with dark black lines around everything. And you know, it was fun. Sure, it was contrived, and it wasn't exactly me, but it sold, and I was happy. And in the background, I kept doing super realistic colored pencil pieces as portraits. And they sold, and I was happy.
But I was missing something. I was getting known for my cityscapes with their big black lines, but I didn't want to be. It was fun, but it wasn't feeding me artistically. I know, that sounds wishy-washy, but it was like being a diehard history lover at heart and then going and majoring in math. I could do it, but it was just work. I was still sneaking away and doing the colored pencils -- I loved the bold colors of acrylic but I preferred to work with pencils.
So here I was with these two entirely different styles. What I really wanted was to reconcile them somehow into one. So I did just what I told you guys to do in my last style post. I took out my art and laid it up against the wall and I looked at it. First thing I did was take away the pieces that I didn't like. I didn't want to do anything like them again, so they didn't figure into it. The second thing I did was take out pieces that were experiments -- I liked them, but they were totally out of left field and just me playing. Then I stared at the ones that were left. The effect was what you get from the art in this post -- some radically different pieces of art.
But I'm an analytical person and I wasn't going down without a fight. So I studied them, and I asked myself:
- what appeals to me in each?
- which ones did I enjoy painting the most?
- which ones am I the proudest to tell people I did?
- which ones can I still look at after three months and not dislike?
- what are the similarities between the ones that I've chosen based on the three questions above?
- realism. I tried the abstract thing. The impressionism thing. The photo-realistic thing. And realism was what made me happy. It can have elements of those other things, but when it comes to it, I like representational art.
- color. I like it. Lots of it. In weird places. If there was a way to meld my crazy cityscape use of color and my dry, realistic use of color together, I wanted it.
- palette. In my favorite pieces, there was definitely a certain palette forming. Today, I still only use the same twenty colors of pencils over and over again.
- Stained Glass. It's a theme I keep coming back to over and over again. I still haven't figured out how to incorporate it as much as I like, but I will get in there someday.
- Pencils. It had to be colored pencils. It was just the medium that I felt the most comfortable with, ever since I first picked one up.
And you know what, now my art booth looks like a sane person with one personality did all of it (which just shows you how deceptive looks can be).
I have to mention another comment, made by the wise Katherine Tyrrell, as well. She said that it wasn't just finding your style, it was developing it. This is Very True. Now that I've found my style, I'm quite happy to spend the rest of my life making it more like me.