Learning from other artists can move us more quickly from struggle to success. However, a lot of varied influences in a short period of time can lead to a confusion of personal style. I noticed that I put my own ways aside while ‘trying on’ other styles, especially when my skills were fledgling. My artwork varied depending on the influence: Mike Svob‘s style, Bonnie Roberts colour choices, the ‘John Carlton’ way taught by Doug Swinton, David Langevin‘s amazing acrylic layering and so on. This is a positive part of the process: these generous artists have condensed the learning of a lifetime and shared the results.
For learning, I think it’s great to copy the styles of the masters in order to grasp concepts and to then move on. Though it is normal to be influenced (no man is an island), my goal is to apply the learned methods to my own insights — without rendering the style of my instructors. Not easy! It feels like going full circle after traveling in a foreign land and seeing where I started with new eyes: I am ready to settle down and be comfortable in my own ways and means.
Finding our way:
Get the basic tools under your belt: drawing, composition, colour theory and so on.
Learn, apply, learn, apply.
To develop style, paint a lot and consistently.
If a particular workshop really jibes, there’s something there that flows with the real you.
Paint with a purpose: to learn, to document, to express, to tell a story…
If a method comes easily, it is still viable, and probably your thing.
Give various methods a go. Experimenting is a part of process.
Everyone will have a different opinion: have vision.
Learn to critique your own work without ego.
Recognize weaknesses and improve on them.
Recognize strengths and capitalize on them.
Every instructor and painter has their own ideas about methods.
Study a collection of your own favourite paintings: ask what you like about them. Is there a commonality among them?
Second guessing is futile.