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Developing “your own personal style.”

Collectors and galleries want artists with their own personal style. It’s understandable. If something is making money, then it’s definitely “working”, and who wants to mess with success?

In a recent brochure for art workshops, over half of the courses promised to help you “develop your own personal style”.

I once had a personal style; in fact I may have had a unique style twice. My style came out of nowhere. It was not planned, or even sought out. One day I just tried something, and liked the result. I played with it for a few paintings, got the knack of what I was trying to do, and did it. My new style fascinated me, then interested me, then bored me. If I had to make a living repainting variations of those works, I would get a factory job.

Wherever you are on your personal journey, you already have your own style. It may just be that it’s the same one that may other artists also have.

My advice to anyone struggling to find a personal style is; stop. You already have one. The one you have is working for you, or you would have abandoned it. Ask yourself why you are painting,** and listen to the answer. If it’s to make money, you have my best wishes. If it’s any other reason, you have my (for whatever its worth) permission to keep your own style for as long as it makes you happy.

Larry Weiss

** I have asked of every good painter I have ever met; “why do you paint?” Of course the real question was, “why do I paint?” It’s a question I have been asking myself for years, with no good answer. A master artist friend of mine agrees. If we ever found the answer we would probably stop painting. We also agree that we would never stop creating.

And here are a few related thoughts.

Art is either plagiarism or revolution.
Paul Gauguin

Any fool can paint a picture, but it takes a wise man to be able to sell it.
Samuel Butler


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Updated 5/14//11

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