Artists hear all the time the advice that you need to find “YOUR STYLE” as if it’s this thing playing hide-n-seek with you. That if you turn over enough rocks you’ll find it hiding beneath. This thinking messed with my head for so many years. It’s something that my son and I were discussing the other day and I told him to let go of the idea of finding his style, but rather to get comfortable with his process. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized doing just that was the turning point for me as an artist and as a writer.
Finding your style takes an analytical approach to art and the process is in the doing. Everyone tells struggling artists to just make a lot of art, but that too feels vague. What it truly boils down to is the process and the feelings you get when creating.
In 2018 when our baby boy died I feared I’d never make art again. I was focused on a career in children’s illustrations and I was suddenly an artist who couldn’t create art. My husband pushed me to try a new medium. He suggested acrylic paint since my daughter had some and I refused. I didn’t know how to paint with acrylics. It seemed hard and way outside my comfort zone, but finally after enough needling from dear hubby I came into my studio, which I had avoided until then, and I started painting. The painting was terrible but it was the freest I’d ever felt when creating. That led to a year of me creating art just for me. (I even documented it and turned that year into a class…Art After Loss). I tried tons of mediums and I played. In the end, what I had discovered was a process that worked for me and ultimately when I look back I see my style forming.
So if you too are struggling to find “Your Style”…here are the four things I did that might just help you too.
Try Different Mediums – Try something new. For me that was acrylic paint, then soft pastels, inks, markers, and the list goes on and on. This also means to try different paper or try digital art if you’ve always done analog.
Look For What Inspires You – Look through your Pinterest boards for what grabs you. Maybe it’s something outside…the ocean, your garden, the trees. Finding something that excites you visually will drive you to your art desk.
Listen To That Inner Voice / Your Gut – Don’t make art that you think people expect you to or want you to. Maybe you are moved my graffiti art. Maybe you want to try painting large murals but are afraid. That little voice inside is trying to tell you to go for it. Listen to it!
Take Classes Outside Your Comfort Zone – Classes are the best way to try new ideas and mediums, but what I suggest is instead to push yourself to take a class that is so far outside your comfort zone. The reason is you stretch your creative muscles in a way that I’ve found always inspires new work. I read books about comic book art not because I want to create comic book art, but because I always learn something that I can use in my own art style. So try new things and see how it shows up in your own passion projects.
When creating my digital planner I did all the layout and design work in Canva and then had Canva transfer the file to Powerpoint. From there I added the many hyperlinks in PowerPoint to make the planner easy and smooth to navigate. But I ran into a problem with my PDF losing the hyperlinks when I saved the file. I should also mention that I’m working on a MAC.
The solution is this…
When you’re finished editing your file, Save it as a PowerPoint file. Then log into your microsoft.com account online and click go to your account. In the upper left corner there is a box of dots, click on that and open PowerPoint.
Open the file you just saved.
Then from here, you can do a Save As and select Download as PDF. Your hyperlinks will be preserved.
MACs have their own PDF creation mechanism so when saving as a PDF in PowerPoint the MAcs converter overrides PowerPoint’s native PDF creation tool, and in that process, you lose the hyperlinks. By saving through the online PowerPoint it overrides the MAC creation tool and allows PowerPoint to preserve the hyperlinks.
It’s a pain that we have to take the extra step but thankfully it’s there for those of us who still prefer Powerpoint over Keynote.
For all my digital planner lovers…I’ve designed a digital planner just for you.
I used my popular to-do list planner as the model making it the perfect design for those that get overwhelmed by complicated digital planners, those that prefer a checklist-style planner, and those who just need to keep things simple and easy.
I could go on and on about this awesome planner, but instead…let me just show you!
With tons and tons of hyperlinks making this planner is super easy to navigate.
Growing up I had many in my family who were clay/tile artists, but sadly that talent I do not count as one of my own. It’s something I would love to learn and get better at, but in the meantime, I had fun playing with Air-Dry Clay and making some fun paint palettes of my own.
I ordered some Air-Dry clay. There were a couple different brands, you can even get the kind that you bake in the oven.
The downside of the Air-Dry Clay was how quickly it started to dry making it hard to mold. So I kept a small glass of water next to me and would keep my fingers damp as I molded the clay. Despite it drying while I was working with it…the overall dry time was a couple of days. So if you don’t have that kind of time, I would consider getting an oven bake clay. And one thing I didn’t do was put pressure on the palettes while they were drying and I found that they curled a bit. So next time I would definitely weigh down the palettes to prevent that.
I’m so excited about these new cover designs so I’m giving away a copy to one of you!! I made the announcement in my Newsletter that went out today. If you aren’t a subscriber and want in on the giveaway…you can subscribe to my Newsletter here.
I’m so excited to announce the launch of my new art class Expressive Florals. It’s live on Skillshare!!
In this class, we’ll be using thinned acrylic paint to create an expressive, almost watercolor-styled, floral. With Expressive Florals we aren’t trying to create a photo-realistic flower, instead, it’s about creating florals that are sketchy and fluid…and full of your own personal expression.
You will begin by gathering inspiration and creating a color palette to use as a reference. Then I’ll show you how to use those references to sketch out the flowers and then how to use that sketch as a guide to paint your expressive florals.
For this class, you’ll need acrylic paint, of any kind. I’ll show you how to thin your acrylic with water and also with a flow medium and how each reacts on the paper.
The key to this style is the use of brush strokes. In this class, I do recommend using long bristle brushes, like liner brushes. These brushes offer the best strokes for this style of expressive florals.
For those who aren’t current Skillshare members…this link will get you a free month of all access to Skillshare.
Vintage books are one of my love languages. I love the way they look lined on the shelf. The way they smell and how they feel in my hands. I especially love the old books that are tattered and falling apart. They make you slow down and gently open their pages. There is something amazing about the life each of these books have lived and all the owners and readers that have flipped through these pages before me.
It took me many years to have the courage the cut into an old book and to use the pages in my art practice. It still takes me a moment to make the first cut. In fact, I even stop to appreciate the book, the pages and to say a thank you for the use of its pages.
I especially love old illustrated books and old dictionaries. Dictionary pages are just plain beautiful!! I’m in the middle of filming my next class “Expressive Florals” so I created a bunch of samples for the class using Dictionary pages. I loved how they turned out so I made them into greeting cards. They are for sale in my shop if you are interested in picking up a set for yourself.
Gesso Your Paper
Adding a layer of gesso over your paper will prime your surface in preparation for your paint layers. You can use either clear or white gesso. Just know that white gesso will be more opaque and block out more of the background. If you want to see more of your vintage paper, then clear is the way to go.
Sketch Your Floral
You can skip this step if you prefer to freestyle your floral with your paint. I like to sketch a very light line to get the position correct. I then add a darker graphite pencil over it because I like the way the graphite mixes with the paint.
I begin with my mid-tone color and then build-up to the lightenest color. I save my darkest to be used between layers where I want to add depth and dimension.
Add Soft Charcoal
I like to add soft pastel to areas of the illustration to continue to add texture and depth to the piece. Then with a white pastel I fill in the background around the floral. I blend this out then with black pastel I’ll add dots and marks around the flower. I also like to add other marks with pastels where it feels right.