Thursday, July 4, 2013

128 Finding a style

When we say artists have found a style it means they have arrived at a decision about their artistic expression. Style encompasses technique, composition, and attitude. It is an expression of your personality. In the best sense finding your style implies self knowledge fused with a technique that best expresses that individuality.

I know artists who thought little about their style, about technique, or the ultimate expression of their painting. These artists seem to know exactly who they are and their paintings reflect their confidence. Although I'm often envious of such confidence I find it completely alien to who I am. I'm more inclined to view such confidence as bluster, or worse, as thoughtlessness at the complexity of the world. What some view as lack of confidence others esteem as introspection.

Whether good or bad my journey has entailed a lot of experimentation, introspection, and self doubt. But those who know me well know that such a journey itself is an expression of my personality, my true nature. There might be those who would suggest some kind of self-help program to bolster my confidence and I have no aversion to self improvement of any kind. But I'm equally opposed to any type of fakery when it comes to evolving personal style. I'm unwilling to embrace a feigned confidence at the expense of genuine introspection.

I've known those who simply adopted a style, who copied the techniques of their favorite painters. I've known artists who faked a style, embracing the most popular fashions of the moment. These are common solutions for students and I don't condemn anyone for trying them especially in the absence of alternatives. But feigning a style is not a real solution because there is no discovery of self. An adopted style is not a style. Any expression that is not a manifestation of who you really are is not a style. It is merely a pose. 

When asked if there is a shortcut to finding a final style I'm forced to confess that there is no easy way. There are shortcuts to technical proficiency and technical proficiency is a component of style. But the only way to find a style is to discover a method that best represents your personality, your intellect, and your view of the world. Those who copy a style or feign a style are simply postponing discovering their true style. How your style evolves is an aspect of your personality. It proclaims how you are developing as an artist and a human being. This process cannot be manufactured.

Brad Teare July 2013

Si quisiera hacer una pregunta en espaƱol por favor hagalo. Hablo castellano.


  1. love the painting

  2. The "style" path can be compared to the 'spiritual' path. The path follows you. At least that's how I've experienced the painting journey. No examples, guides, advice, or technique tips have ever really helped me when I'm face-to-face with a blank canvas. History goes out the window, as much as I love it and am inspired by it. Style is a result, not a goal. What good does it do? Maybe when we're all old and ready to croak, our body of work can be seen as having a style. Lotta good that does us while we're struggling with painting's bright magic, trying to figure out which grey-green on our palette was mixed for which part of the picture. Was it this one or that one? Let's see,....

  3. Deep thoughts bring forth simple solutions to our effort in finding the “common denominator”. Habits from deep thoughts help us become more proficient at our craft, which leads to inter confidence and understanding of what we do. When we get it right and find the denominator we think we know it but need others to helps us believe it. Maybe this is the building of style. “The effort to find the common denominator makes us who we are”.

  4. Right...Brad keep your style coming it's what we need...people like you Brad.

  5. Style is so much about the distillation of everything we see and do filtered through our mind's eye coupled with how we observe the world. Brad Holland once said something to the effect that he used to worry about finding his style and when he finally stopped worrying about it, his style found him. I think it is totally true as I jump from different techniques and mediums in search of that magic mode of expression, I have had many people tell me that regardless of medium or approach, my "style" is still evident. It is sort of like your handwriting. Try as we might to change it there are still certain tendencies and "tells", to use a poker term, that shine through whatever work we create. The key is recognizing the ones that make us unique and embracing them as we build our skills of expression.

  6. Interesting post, Brad. For a while, I worried a lot about not finding "my style" yet. I constantly experiment, trying different techniques as a part of the learning process and the journey. After years of painting, I *may* be onto a style of painting that I'll settle down with for a bit. But I expect any artists journey, including mine, will demonstrate a variety of approaches.

    Today, I don't really worry so much about style. I worry about making the best paintings I can, paintings I'd be proud to have hanging on my own walls. There are very few artists who become uniquely recognizable in their style. But that doesn't mean that what you or I do has any less value on the works we create.

    IMHO, I think making good to great paintings is the way to be focused, and if some unique style comes out of that journey...well that's just icing on the cake.

    Like another poster says, that painting you have there is very enjoyable. Good design, a nice rhythm in the textures and is a very enjoyable work!

  7. Really nice painting. Love the blues.

    -- Dave

  8. Thanks for the insightful comments, everyone. This entry emerged from a question a painter asked on my Youtube channel. It got me thinking, especially since I have been evolving some pretty radical changes in my painting lately. Technique is something one can learn, but style has to evolve naturally although experimentation can probably speed the process.

  9. Thanks Brad, I check your site often and am always inspired by your advise. I have always wondered about style. For years I wondered if I would ever develop my own style and now that I have, I wonder if I should be happy about that or try to change it. I look at other artist work

    1. Angela, I think your comment got clipped for some reason. I would love to read what else you had to add. Thanks for the kind words.

  10. I am impressed by the quality of information on this website. There are a lot of good resources here. I am sure I will visit this place again soon.
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Thanks for your comments!


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