Although I’ve already written about how to find your own unique art style and about one way of knowing when you’ve found it, something happened to me a couple of weeks ago which made me think about this whole subject in more detail.
For various reasons, I tried to draw and paint an original picture in the style of Beryl Cook. I looked at a few of Cook’s paintings and then tried to make something new which would look almost as if Cook herself had painted it.
As you can see, I failed miserably:
Don’t get me wrong, I tried to copy Cook’s style but – apart from drawing the characters’ eyes in a slightly different way and making their noses and lips slightly larger, I just couldn’t do it. As hard as I tried, the painting still looked like it had been painted in my own style.
But, far from considering this to be a personal failing or a limitation, I found it surprisingly reassuring. After all, it meant that my own art style was so strong and so unique that I couldn’t help but use it whenever I painted or drew anything. It had become a part of who I am as an artist.
This has also given me a greater understanding of why some professional copyists, like Susie Ray, try hard not to develop their own personal style. Because, once you truly have your own style, it’s next to impossible not to use it.
Yes, you can change a few parts of it to make your picture look like someone else painted or drew it, but your own art style will still be lurking underneath it in a fairly obvious way. Even if it’s only obvious to you, then it will still be obvious.
So, if you want to know whether or not you’ve found your own style yet, then it might be worth trying to draw or paint a completely new and original picture in the style of another artist. Just make sure that the art style that you’re trying to copy looks nothing like the art style you’re currently using (and it isn’t a style that has already influenced your own style).
If, despite everything, the picture still looks more like your other pictures than those from the artist you’re trying to copy, then that’s a good sign that you’ve found (at least the beginnings of) your own art style.
Yes, your art style will still keep developing over time and, just because you’ve found your art style, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to improve it or add new things to it.
But, despite everything I’ve said, one of the signs that you’ve truly mastered art is when you can switch between styles fairly easily. When you can paint a new picture in someone else’s style and then switch back to your own style for the next painting, then you’re a truly amazing artist.
But if, like me, you’re still learning – then not being able to paint in anyone else’s style can be an extremely good sign that you’ve found your own style. Ok, I can sort of draw manga art, but even then, it still looks a lot like my own art.
Sorry that this article was so short, but I hope it was useful 🙂