Are you in search of your own unique signature artistic style? This is probably the most common desire I hear from people in this community. And I understand why!
First I want to reiterate that your style is not a destination. It's not something that you find, boom, done. Style is more like a path. It can be straight or windy uphill or downhill with a range of different types of scenery. Why? Because on an artistic journey, you are constantly exploring, changing, growing. That's not to say color preferences or composition elements change—that can be consistent (you know me and my bright colors!) but your skills will certainly evolve over time.
3 Reasons Why You Haven't Found Your Artistic Style
#1: Not Letting Your Interests and Your Curiosities Guide Your Way
Especially with modern world technology and social media, it can be difficult to not bombard your mind with everyone else's work. While tutorials are GREAT for learning and developing skills (hello JR YouTube and Patreon), you can quickly get into a creative rut where it's challenging to get out of that space where you need to always see or copy another artists' work before doing your own.
If you're constantly consuming and following others' style, interests, etc, it can be hard to get in tune with your OWN interests and curiosities. What is your inner guidance system telling you? What are you inspired by—fashion, ceramics, interior design? Think about what outside influences and interests you are truly passionate about. And maybe it's something you haven't seen on Instagram or YouTube! Just start painting. It might not turn out as you were hoping and that's okay. If there is a section of a painting you especially liked, cut it out, put it in your journal and write down what you liked and what you might change the next time.
#2: Not Developing Your Observation Skills
Observing and sketching makes you a student of the beautiful world around you. The ordinary things can really be extraordinary when you're sitting with the present moment and its surroundings. And you don't have to be trained in sketching! You can train yourself to be more present and observant with practice.
Take a pencil and paper and sit in your yard, patio or favorite park. Find something you can study—maybe a flower, a tree, or even a ladybug on the ground. Note the colors, shapes, structure. It sounds simple but it's not always easy! Some people are so used to following tutorials and looking up inspiration online, that it's difficult to sit and observe. Try it and see what it feels like!
If you struggle with observing and sketching, start with writing. Take a journal and just describe what you're seeing. Even though it's a different medium, it can really help you visualize through the language center in your brain what that subject looks like, its colors, shapes, direction, etc.
Bottom line: Keep honing those observation skills in some way!
#3: Playing the Comparison Game
Are you constantly comparing yourself to classic or modern artists? We all know Roosevelt's quote: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” It's also something that can initiate a lot of negative core beliefs or negative self-talk. This is very common, especially for beginners, but can happen to anyone! I'm talking about perfectionism, fear of failure, or imposter syndrome. Sound familiar? All of these things come down to our negative self-talk. Maybe it started with how we were parented or with a teacher from our childhood.
We first need to identify the core belief and then we can dismantle it.
When you're comparing yourself to others, the loudest voice in your head is your negative self-talk. That is something that we, as creatives, need to work on because it can be a huge hindrance in our development as an artist.
I cover a lot of these ideas and practices in my new course, The Art Within. We talk about core beliefs, different modalities like mindfulness, meditation, breath work and other things that I use in my own process as an artist. So if this is something you're interested in exploring, check it out!
Did any of the 3 reasons resonate with you? Let me know in the comments below!