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Old 08-07-2017, 12:12 PM
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StrongAsMeat StrongAsMeat is offline
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Finding your style

Hi gang.

I've been exploring watercolor painting, started a few months ago and I really enjoy it. I watch a lot of youtube videos and explore instagram and pinterest pics to discover new artists and styles. I've tried replicating different styles, or recreating photographs, some more successful than others. I'm not at the point of selling anything, all just for practice. I would like to sell or at least display my work eventually, but right now I don't have 2 paintings that 'relate' to each other in style or subject. I don't think I have 30 pieces yet, so I know I'm still in the very early stages, but I can't decide what I like doing best. I definitely have 'heroes' in the art world, but I don't want to copy their style.

I know this is a weird thing to complain about, but has anyone been in my situation? Please have a look at my Instagram, thanks!
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Old 08-07-2017, 12:54 PM
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Re: Finding your style

Your "style" will develop automatically as you paint more and more; just like your signature has since you learned to write.

I intentionally changed my style about a year ago, so now I work in two styles.

It will all become clearer with time and practice.

Just keep painting!
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Old 08-07-2017, 01:46 PM
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Re: Finding your style

Quote:
Originally Posted by D'Lady
Your "style" will develop automatically as you paint more and more; just like your signature has since you learned to write.

I intentionally changed my style about a year ago, so now I work in two styles.

It will all become clearer with time and practice.

Just keep painting!

She nailed it on the head just enjoy creating and you will look up before too long and see your style clearly before you.
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Old 08-09-2017, 06:28 PM
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Re: Finding your style

I wonder why you don't label your work on instagram ... title, size, medium.

la
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Old 08-10-2017, 07:11 PM
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Re: Finding your style

Quote:
Originally Posted by La_
I wonder why you don't label your work on instagram ... title, size, medium.

la

Thanks for the advice to those above.

As for your question, I see your point. The first 20 (i think) I just numbered, they were just to get my feet wet as I had never painted before. I sort of named them afterwards, but to be honest I've never been a big fan of naming paintings, not sure why. The medium is all watercolor, and the material and size is not something I felt important to the pieces.

If I want to take myself seriously I will take your advice and include that information. Thanks
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Old 08-10-2017, 10:14 PM
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Re: Finding your style

Quote:
Originally Posted by StrongAsMeat
Hi gang.

I've been exploring watercolor painting, started a few months ago and I really enjoy it.
I'm impressed with the progress you have made in just a few months. Nothing improves your ability like painting and painting and painting....Don't stop.

Quote:
Originally Posted by StrongAsMeat
I watch a lot of youtube videos and explore instagram and pinterest pics to discover new artists and styles. I've tried replicating different styles, or recreating photographs, some more successful than others.
Most of us started in exactly the same way. Trying to copy someone else's style/composition/subject interpretation...

Quote:
Originally Posted by StrongAsMeat
I'm not at the point of selling anything, all just for practice. I would like to sell or at least display my work eventually, but right now I don't have 2 paintings that 'relate' to each other in style or subject.
When I started, I switched genres a often as I started a new painting. Landscapes, Still life, botanicals, even a portrait. Even the great and the good change what they paint over time. Richard Diebenkorn was first noted for his Abstract Expressionist style but many remember him for is figurative paintings. He then switched again to paint his Ocean Park series, a geometric style. So don't be overly concerned about changing style or subject.

Quote:
Originally Posted by StrongAsMeat
I don't think I have 30 pieces yet, so I know I'm still in the very early stages, but I can't decide what I like doing best. I definitely have 'heroes' in the art world, but I don't want to copy their style.

I know this is a weird thing to complain about, but has anyone been in my situation? Please have a look at my Instagram, thanks!
I started out in watercolour about 8 years ago. My tutor had us paint copies of watercolour paintings. It only took me about 3 sessions to want something more than painting copies in the style of XYZZY. I to have my own art world heroes and after a short time I came to realize I didn't want to copy their style or subject.

I wanted to know how see how my art heroes saw a great painting when all I could see was the other side of the Thames and Westminster. I studied and painted for maybe 3 more years before I 'discovered' the design of composition. 2 1/2 more years of study and I 'discovered' Ian Robert's book "Mastering Composition".

It was an epiphany for me and allowed me to start designing my own composition and helped me to see a interesting painting in the most mundane subjects.

In closing, one other thing I learned over the past 8 or 9 years is: what works for me may or may not work for you and what became a big influence in my art making, may be insignificant for you.

Just keep painting and studying painting.
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Old 08-11-2017, 11:12 AM
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Re: Finding your style

Quote:
Originally Posted by StrongAsMeat
Thanks for the advice to those above.

As for your question, I see your point. The first 20 (i think) I just numbered, they were just to get my feet wet as I had never painted before. I sort of named them afterwards, but to be honest I've never been a big fan of naming paintings, not sure why. The medium is all watercolor, and the material and size is not something I felt important to the pieces.

If I want to take myself seriously I will take your advice and include that information. Thanks


Fair enough.
So, not to scare ya, nor push you into something you're not ready for, but there are folks who look for emerging artists, newbie artists like yourself, who seem to have ability [pending fame potential] <- that's a strong term, but bear with me, i'm trying to make the point of - why shoot yourself in the foot.

example:
I'll give you $50 each for the stag and the hammock beach scene.
If they're originals
If they're a standard format size larger than 4x6 and smaller than 16x20
If the photo of the work is not manipulated.
what would you do?

lol, long story short, your work is pretty good - prepare yourself for the possibilities

also, back on topic of style - it's already emerging as 'soft realism' and it's totally okay when you toss a bit of variety in with that, like the colourful critters. some diversity is just fine - encouraged even, at craft/art markets - just not at gallery openings.

and yes, we've all been in this boat you're in they're all just different colors and styles of boats.

la
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Last edited by La_ : 08-11-2017 at 11:18 AM.
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Old 09-21-2017, 09:54 PM
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Re: Finding your style

I paint in oils, and I started about a year ago. I don't have a style so strong as someone such as Van Gogh for example, but I have settled into a way of painting that allows me to express myself the way i want to and maintain continuity throughout my work.

Looking back on how things worked out for me, I would suggest sitting down and really look at some of your favorite artists. Then you need to make a decision. Pick the one you like best and tell yourself "this is how im going to paint".

Once you have made this decision, then your life becomes much simpler because now you know what you want. Now you know which books to read, which videos to watch, which workshops to go to, which subject matter to paint, which materials to use, etc, etc, etc.

Once you are on this path, you will inevitably see your style emerge right before your eyes. You cant hide it, its going to end up showing through one way or another, and if you are very passionate about your work, then i think others will see that.

Anyways, just the best advice I can give under my experience an knowledge. I hope it can point you in the right direction
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Old 12-10-2017, 03:32 PM
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bvanevery bvanevery is offline
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Re: Finding your style

Quote:
Originally Posted by La_
example:
I'll give you $50 each for the stag and the hammock beach scene.

Say "no" because no artist in the First World can support him / herself on such a lowball number. As a self-employed person, you could only make a profit on that if you could literally whip out the complete work in a half hour, start to finish. Almost any beginning artist would take longer to do it than that, and I haven't even looked at the work. Don't care what it is, $50 is too low to sell at.

Original paintings must be priced, at a bare mimimum, in hundreds of dollars to recoup the artist's time. And professional quality artists have to charge thousands of dollars, or it is charity. Also, galleries take their cut and artists may only see 50% of the money.

The temptation to say "take a hike" is impolite and I endeavor to stifle it. It really behooves one not to put one's work in front of cheapskates.

Last edited by bvanevery : 12-10-2017 at 03:34 PM.
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Old 12-10-2017, 04:36 PM
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Re: Finding your style

lol, bv, way to burst my bubble of wholesale to retail marketing.

small, unframed water-colour works from an unknown newbie, aint gonna get much more.

la
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Old 12-10-2017, 04:42 PM
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Re: Finding your style

Quote:
Originally Posted by La_
small, unframed water-colour works from an unknown newbie, aint gonna get much more.

The labor of producing and selling original paintings at low price points is not viable. One could try to figure out printmaking.

One could also invest time into becoming "more known", or seeming to be more known. Product positioning is surely a learning curve that people can go up. But please, no one be chumps. $50 for original work is chump money.

I've made that kind of money collecting signatures for ballot initiatives in 1 hour, no way I could make a decent painting for $50. Most professional trades probably can make that kind of money for things like, staring at your pipes. "So you put a turkey dinner down that ma'am?" Or they might see half that as an employee, but the company bills $50..$100/hr. So be self-employed. Of course you have to deal with your own overhead expenses and headaches, but it's better not to have someone deciding your pitiful wage. "Contractor math" is 2 to 2.5 times Employee math. If you were making $12/hr as an employee with benefits, you need to see $25..$30 as a contractor. And $12/hr isn't money, sorry if anyone thinks so.

Last edited by bvanevery : 12-10-2017 at 04:49 PM.
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Old 12-16-2017, 09:57 PM
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Re: Finding your style

Size and medium do matter when posting, because anyone looking at it curious about how to do it will be affected by size and medium. I work rather small - thus doing pieces in a shorter time and in some ways able to get more detailed without getting busy, because it's a simpler composition. There's a lot of why size and materials matter.

To a buyer it makes a difference in how they're going to frame and hang it, where it goes in their life.

Eh, other than that it makes sense.

I've underpriced my work more than once and lived on the proceeds in a very happy but minimal way. Unfortunately due to situation, I couldn't really price much higher. I found ways around that, mostly by choosing very fast media and working in a market where I was charging market rate. The rest of the situation had to do with my medical needs and limits. But it's very hard to price work accurately and still make a good living.

It helps to have other income streams too, teaching and passive income streams, prints sales - you have to look at the total income the piece brings in and prints or merchandise can make a big difference. But for pricing originals it helps to be really honest about skill level, find similar works and see what people are paying in the markets open to you. Gallerists can price much higher - and you're paying 50% to the gallery for their work and location and rent and sales crew and all for that to happen. Sales will be relatively slow but pay high. Or prints and illustrations and merchandise move fast and pieces are used in more than one way. There's any number of different types of art careers. Selling original paintings on commission or off the wall is only one of many - and how to do that varies a lot too.
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Old 12-17-2017, 11:52 AM
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Re: Finding your style

When you are first learning, you do tend to move in all directions. The same goes with writing. In writing, it is called: the writer's voice. An artist may refer to it as a "style" if that is the word you want to use, but it is still your artistic "voice."

The whole idea of serial works:

I love realistic animal and nature art, and Robert Bateman is one of my favorite artists. I love his precision, and yet, the work, when viewed up close is often very "rough" and scribbly. (I mainly do sculpture, and I have tried to reconcile the Precise and the scribbly in my own animal art, but for different reasons. Settling on the exact method of scribblyness has been an obsession of mine for at least 5 years).

Okay, so I have a book of his work entitled "Birds." Obviously, the subject is bird pictures and paintings done by Bateman. Going through the pictures, they occasionally have a signature, and a date: 1989, 2001, 1975, 1991 etc. The pictures of birds are clean and finished, or rough sketches done with pencil. All different kinds.

The idea that a new artist needs to focus on one thing, and one thing only is a way that gallerists get the artist to work specifically with their walls (and their profits) in mind. I've worked with galleries. They usually say "you can only do pictures of golf courses" because they think it will sell. Marketing is the main impetus to the idea that you need to have a "series."

Going back to the Bateman work. The book about birds represents 40 or 50 years of work. He has painted and drawn many animals from all continents in that time. The focus of his work is not birds, it is "animals," and birds are just a tiny slice of the pie chart.

I really think that you can destroy yourself as an artist if all you think about are marketing and "what sells." You need to find your own groove, and work from there.

Pink Floyd would not have been successful if they had tried to be the Beatles.
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Last edited by Use Her Name : 12-17-2017 at 11:54 AM.
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Old 12-19-2017, 07:59 PM
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Re: Finding your style

Katy, that is so true. Style is just like your handwriting, it happens while you're doing your favorite things. A decade later you can analyze it and see how everything you enjoy fuses together in everything you do. Or a stray comment may make you realize it. I thought I was getting fussily detailed on a realistic piece and a friend complimented me on how the composition had a nearly Asian simplicity to it. Wow. All that sumi-e practice paid off in my not-sumi work and helps me organize paintings.

That all happens in the unconscious, literally just like doing handwriting. Mine is very legible because I learned early and wanted it to be - and ever since it's been somewhere between copperplate and jazzy brush scripts.

In planning for what sells, it's more choosing among the things you love and deciding what's cost effective. I don't do great big Prismacolor realism paintings because no one would pay me enough to do one on commission without a reputation created by doing mostly those, three or four a year, big enough to go in galleries. I chose pastels because I could work larger and get paintings suitable to hang in the reasonably short times I could work on them - and this panned out, then made me a better painter when I dropped into pen and watercolor.

Doing it a lot leads to doing it well and the line at which people will pay isn't even that high a bar. The line they'll pay well enough to live on depends on your standard of living and on marketing ability and existing markets. The difference to me between Professional and Amateur is a lifestyle choice.

Do I want to do this all the time and not work? If so, then I have to learn all the Self Employed skills. If not, as now while I'm retired, okay, I'll do whatever I feel like today, go all over the place and not worry about whether anything sells or earns out.

But while doing it pro, definitely make time for the Things That Aren't Cost Effective. Sometimes they could become so with changes in anything including technology - if I wanted to do Prismacolor realism paintings now, making prints would be a lot cheaper than back when I was first doing those 8 x 10" portraits in it. I'd work larger, plan paintings and pay a good photographer for the prints digital image, then use a prints service to get good prints and market those. Keep the originals or gift them until someone's willing to pay thousands for one or I have too many at home.

They're different aspects of the work though. Working to the market and forcing your direction too far is burnout. I learned never to let myself get that desperate, or I literally would not be able to draw and paint well. I couldn't do it in the "drag myself to work no matter what, to make the rent" state of mind. It takes too much concentration and focus for that. Any time I did my sales would tank - and years later looking at the unsolds, I saw errors I'd never have made if I wasn't stressed and overtired. What fans told me was "these are technically perfect but have no soul."

What that was, they didn't understand the techniques or what went wrong in the painting. A few fellow artists did but not many - and many of those were also saying "technically okay but no soul" until I did my final analysis of the failures. Overtired, sick and worried doesn't make good art. So enjoy it. Really enjoy it. That was a big part of why it worked when it worked, before I got too disabled to continue doing it. Because I loved being an artist, a lot of the scutwork was pleasant too and gave me pride in self employment. I was happy about being an artist when I talked to clients or turned in my taxes to the city, it was all one. I didn't have to wear a tie and work in an office, so I was happy and never bought "Work clothes." I could live in paint stained jeans and get up late if I wanted!
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Last edited by robertsloan2 : 12-19-2017 at 08:03 PM.
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