Although this is an article about how to make your own art more distinctive, I’m going to have to start by singing the praises of another artist for a while. There’s a good reason for this so, don’t worry, I haven’t turned into an art critic or anything like that.
Anyway, a couple of months ago, I was randomly browsing DeviantART when I happened to stumble across an absolutely brilliant artist called Leonid Afremov.
His online gallery contains over 3000 paintings and, looking at random pages of it, there don’t even seem to be any periodic dips in quality (unlike my own art, which can vary in quality quite heavily at times). Every painting I’ve seen of his has been absolutely wonderful.
Like many great artists, Leonid Afremov has his own personal style – he tends to paint using very visible brushstrokes, which give his paintings an almost mosiac-like quality, whilst also being reminiscent of impressionist art from the 19th century. But, enough pretentious art criticism – what really makes his art stand out?
Simple. He has a very distinctive and consistent aesthetic.
What do I mean by this? Well, whilst he uses a fairly distinctive painting style he also makes sure that many of his paintings have a few things in common.
Many of his paintings use an orange and blue colour scheme (with green added occasionally) and many of his paintings also include at least one tree. Combined with his distinctive painting style, this means that you can recognise a painting by Leonid Afremov at a glance.
There are many ways that you can create an aesthetic of your own. The most obvious one is, as I mentioned earlier, to use a consistent colour scheme. As long as the colours don’t clash and you have a good blend of “warm” and “cool” colours, then using a consistent colour scheme can be a great way to create your own aesthetic without limiting what you can and can’t paint.
(On a slight tangent, did you know that blue and orange colour schemes are the most popular type of colour scheme in modern movie posters? Seriously, it’s apparently one of the most visually appealing and attention-grabbing colour schemes in existence. )
Another way to create a consistent aesthetic is to have common themes in your artwork. This can involve using a recurring object (like the trees in Leonid Afremov’s paintings), but you can also do things like making sure that all of your art evokes a particular mood, a particular time in history etc…. The only problem with this approach is that it can limit what you can paint.
Finally, another way to come up with a consistent aesthetic is to use similar levels of brightness and/or contrast in almost all of your artwork.
As I’ve mentioned before, most of my paintings tend to be fairly gloomy (often with fairly high levels of contrast). Yes, even when I try to paint something as cheerful and bright as a summer music festival – this tends to happen:
Likewise, even when I try to do something like make a still life painting of some cute stuffed animals, then it still ends up looking gloomier than most paintings of stuffed animals do:
The advantage of using brightness and/or contrast as part of your own personal aesthetic is that – like with using a consistent colour scheme – you have total freedom when it comes to what you can draw or paint. Since you don’t have to worry about including the same things in all of your paintings, you can create a much wider variety of paintings that still look fairly distinctive.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂