Developing Your Personal Style in Oil Painting

Personal style is something almost every successful artist has—it’s the thing that makes someone look at your painting and know it was by you and no one else.

It’s also the thing that galleries look for when choosing which paintings to display. They may want to showcase many different styles of art or keep things within the same type of style, but either way, style is important.

Think of the great artists; every person has an image in their head of what a classic Monet or Picasso painting looks like.

Some new artists worry about personal style, since many beginning art lessons begin with copying someone else’s work. It’s not always something that feels totally natural to develop.

Here are two things to keep in mind.

Give it Time

You must realize that your personal style will develop with time. When you first begin painting, it will take a lot of time and practice to just get the mechanics of oil painting down. Remember: you must first learn how to paint before you can become a painter. Once you’ve gotten experience painting a little bit of everything, you’ll be naturally drawn to certain colors or methods.

You will find out if you like painting realistic scenes or more abstract figures. Maybe you’ll decide to throw out all brushes and only paint with palette knives. You should practice and paint as much as you can afford to and study what other artists do. Just try to absorb everything.

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If your personal style isn’t apparent at first, it just means that you need to keep practicing, keep painting, and keep exploring the options. Don’t waste time worrying about a style. Whether it comes consciously or unconsciously, after enough time, your style will become apparent. Give it time.

Allow it to Change

Your personal style may very well change with time. Think of Picasso again. Most people are familiar with the cubism stage of his work, but he actually painted a huge variety of things in many different styles. The work in his Blue Period is entirely different than in the cubism stage. The style you first start working in is not a life-long commitment.

Your style will evolve and change as you enter different periods in your life and mature as a human being and an artist. That’s part of the excitement of art; it changes as you change, and you never know what you could create in the future.

Maybe one day you’ll see a bird perched on the fence in your backyard that inspires you to paint birds for the next seven months, when what you used to paint was purely abstract. You never know what might happen. Just remember to paint what feels natural to you, and that’s where you’ll find the most internal success as an artist.

In conclusion, it’s easy to get worked up about quickly developing your own distinct personal style, but the main point is to relax. Creativity will come when your mind is the most open. Keep painting, keep practicing, and let things flow.

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