Lake Shore - by Lori Woodward
Yesterday, I was chatting with artist friend. She had a still life of veggies and gourds set up on a chair - and she was painting from life. Her style is contemporary, bright colors - great design! She lamented that she'd like to study with artists who could teach her to paint classically - like Zorn or Sargent.
I immediately shot out a comment (perhaps too emphatically) ... Why in the world would you want to paint like thousands of other living painters? You've developed a unique and pleasing style, and while it's not like Sargent or classical - there is a growing audience for more contemporary styles of work. Why not stay with what you're already doing? If you're enjoying your own way of painting, stay with it - develop a body of work, and then market it.
She thanked me, and I hope I wasn't too strong. But sometimes I have to wonder why any artists who has found their own niche would want to paint like someone else? In today's marketing economy, it's niche marketing that is making good sales. Collectors are tired of "the same 'ol thing". They want something that is well done, unique and identifiable to that one artist.
I'm not one to say one style of art is any better than another. There are plenty of folks out there who have developed their individual tastes - and many of them are wanting less traditional works because it doesn't fit in with the newer modern decor. Each generation seems to reject the decorating style of their parents - they want something new and different, something that defines their own generation, and right now, that style is sleek, European, and for the most part has no Victorian or Old World elements. I'm seeing tastes for art run in the same direction - unframed, wide-canvas with bright color and bold painting.
On the other hand, I'm NOT saying that there isn't still a market for traditional work. I prefer to paint in a traditional manner - so I need to find collectors who appreciate that style. In this new world of marketing to individuals without agents, people are developing individual tastes and collections, and that goes for music, art, food etc. It's no longer a mass-marketing world.
Let me end with this... be yourself! Do not be led to clone another painter just because that person has collectors, or because your mentor thinks he is the only one who does "real" artwork. Remember, there are all kinds of collectors - and there are all kinds of art. If we all painted exactly the same way, how boring the world of art would be?
Do yourself a favor: find out who you are and what your artistic inclination is - no matter what style that may be. Seek out a teacher who can help you develop your unique artwork - by learning principles, not copying the teacher's style. Artists make art - and art is as individual as your signature.
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8 Responses to Honor Your Natural Style
Well said, Lori. I always enjoy your articles. Finding our own voice in our artwork is so important.
I enjoyed reading your article. As a pencil artist I keep getting pressured from people about when am I going to start painting? They don't think I'm a real artist unless I use oil or arcylics.I keep thinking maybe I should change, but I really like what I do.
Hi Lori, I agree completely and glad to hear that you encouraged your artist friend to stay authentic to who she is.
I am currently working on a body of work that incorporates "who I am" (it asks questions, it combines my realism with abstract, it incorporates a sense of depth, color harmony, contradictions and texture, and more) and I wish I could paint 24 hours a day to get a complete body of work to market.
Dear pencil artist above, try to listen to your own heart. It is amazing how outsiders make the comments they do - I have received them in the past. I remember trying to paint the way others wanted me to paint. I did it and my spirit was not moved, so I returned to my own artistic path.
The world is full of sameness like wherever you go there is a 'Starbucks and a McDonald'.
There are artists' on every continent all sadly trying and failing to paint like some well known artist. This is a bit like following the leading sheep in the flock...anonymity is guaranteed it's so safe...
The free-spirited goats just get on and paint in their very own art-style...if the rest of the world never sees it so what?
OK have a look at my art...but now go away and paint your art.
Just stay true to yourself and your art...please?
Thanks Lori for the encouragement. I paint 'Western' subjects, horses, cows, etc. and always felt out of place among exhibits of flowers and landscapes. But I just keep on exhibiting! ..and I think people are finally discovering 'my niche'.
Thanks for your comments on being yourself in art and the new trend of wide canvas/no frame which is up my alley most of the time. This encourages and inspires me to get painting!
After reading your comments in the FASO Newsletter and then this post on your blog, I could totally relate. See the quote below form my October newsletter.
"In my July newsletter, I talked about the fact that in 2011 I have experimented a bit with different approaches to painting (e.g., plein air, working quickly, etc.). I committed to paint smaller for the full year. It has been an interesting time of exploration. I just have not been comfortable with the paintings I have produced during my period of exploration, ... I have come to the realization, at least for now, that I was loosing "my voice" as an artist and therefore my confidence...in the latest painting... I have returned to who I am and it feels great.
Maybe I should be part of Artists Anonymous and tell you I am a realist artist in love with detail, but then they might kick me out of Artist Anonymous because I do not want to recover :-) I am going back to trying to paint in a style that not only makes you want to be in the scene, but feel you could walk into the painting."
Well said Lori your articles is good i enjoyed reading your article keep writeing God Bless you
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