Improvements To Your Art Style Can Sometimes Be Subtle – A Ramble

2015 Artwork Art style subtle improvements article sketch

If you’ve got your own unique art style, then you probably know that it’s never really a single unchanging style. Over time, your art style will gradually develop and change in all sorts of interesting and subtle ways as you learn more about making art.

Personally, I like to think of this phenomenon as being like a computer program that receives updates every now and then. It’s easier to think of your art style in this way if you suddenly learn something new that you can quickly apply to your art (like when I suddenly learnt how to draw faces in profile after reading Betty Edwards’ “Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain” in summer 2013). But, as I’m about to explain, changes to your art style can often be a lot more subtle and gradual than this.

But, since I sometimes think of my art style in this way, it raised an interesting question in my mind: “When was my art style’s latest ‘update’ ?

For a while, I thought that it was either early last year when I learnt a new technique for drawing noses or possibly even in late 2014 when I’d started practicing learning how to draw in black & white (as opposed to the greyscale art, with pencil shading, that I’d sometimes made beforehand).

But, as I eventually realised, my art style had improved slightly since then. When I was making another study of an old painting from the 1880s called “The Laundress” by Henri De Toulouse-Lautrec which was posted here in December, not only did I learn a new technique for painting realistic shadows/shading on people’s faces, but I also realised that I now knew just about enough about how lighting and shading works in order to actually learn this.

"After Lautrec (II)" By C. A. Brown

“After Lautrec (II)” By C. A. Brown

This, it seems, was the latest “update” to my art style. It wasn’t some major change that I could easily spot at a glance, it was something a lot more subtle.

It was something that I’d picked up from looking at a lot of photos and other works of art in the right way (eg: studying them closely, thinking of them as a three-dimensional image presented in just two dimensions etc..) over the past few years, through practicing drawing and/or painting shadows/shading over the years and also from making gloomy minimalist paintings when I wasn’t feeling inspired, like this one:

"Derelict Data" By C. A. Brown

“Derelict Data” By C. A. Brown

So, why have I mentioned all of this stuff? Well, if you’re making art fairly regularly, then it can sometimes be easy to worry that your art style has stagnated. But, if you’re interested in making art and you practice regularly, then your art style will improve and evolve.

Yes, improvements can happen suddenly when you decide to start experimenting with new techniques etc… but they can sometimes happen very gradually, or in ways that you don’t immediately notice. Regardless, if you practice regularly, it will happen.


Sorry for the short article, but I hope that it was interesting πŸ™‚

6 comments on “Improvements To Your Art Style Can Sometimes Be Subtle – A Ramble

  1. babbitman says:

    And conversely, sometimes when you haven’t done much art for a while, instead of it looking terrible (which often happens) you’ll astonish yourself with something you hadn’t expected. I’ve had a few instances where the finished product was way better than I had hoped, probably because I was coming to it fresh. But continued practice and evolution is probably the better way of doing it πŸ˜‰

    • pekoeblaze says:

      Wow, that’s pretty cool πŸ™‚ From what I remember of the times when I didn’t make much art, my art style pretty much remained the same if I didn’t practice for quite a while. But, I guess that different things work in different circumstances and for different people. Still, suddenly producing a masterpiece must be a really cool experience though πŸ™‚

      • babbitman says:

        Well, I wouldn’t say I’ve ever produced a masterpiece! But I once did a birthday card for a plane-loving graphic artist based on the Top Gun poster (replacing the F-14s and Tom Cruise with Lightnings and a drawing of my mate). I was very chuffed with that. I must dig my copy of it out of the loft…
        But the thing I was most pleased with relatively recently was a background portrait for one of our shows (doing non-cartoon faces was always my biggest failing):

      • pekoeblaze says:

        I don’t know, I think that “masterpiece” can also be a subjective term – if it’s some of your best work and/or vastly better than you expected, then it’s one of your masterpieces.
        That’s a really cool painting and it certainly has a timeless/ historical look to it (it kind of looks a bit like a mix between Da Vinci [ since the pose/ expression is slightly Mona Lisa-like] and possibly either Vermeer or Caravaggio [ due to the dark minimalist background, like the ones used in many of Caravaggio’s paintings and in Vermeer’s “Girl With A Pear Earring”] perhaps?).
        But, yeah, non-cartoon faces are surprisingly difficult to draw or paint well. I mean, even when I’ve tried to make studies/sketches of old paintings, they always end up looking slightly cartoonish LOL!

      • babbitman says:

        Wow, thank you! πŸ™‚
        I did have a few study pics I’d found on tinternet to use as guides but still had to produce a kind of composite that still looked vaguely like it could be the mum of the lad who played Oliver!
        And you’re right, whatever I think is my best work does become ‘MY masterpiece’, just not ‘A masterpiece’! πŸ˜‰

      • pekoeblaze says:

        No probs πŸ™‚ Your research certainly paid off and, yeah, making a composite is usually one of the best ways to make an imaginative painting that also looks fairly realistic too.
        Good point, it’s kind of a subtle difference – I don’t know, most of my masterpieces are probably still life paintings (even though I don’t tend to make that many of them), mainly because it’s a lot easier to make a painting look realistic if the thing that you’re painting is actually in front of you LOL!!

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