Stylistic Choice or Circumstance|Limiting Yourself

by Wendi OBrien

Today I want to explore the topic of making stylistic choices over circumstance. But what does that even mean?

Stylistic Choices are choices you consciously make from a combination of previous experience in experiments and newly learned techniques that are combined to create a cohesive piece of artwork.

Basically you are drawing on knowledge you have acquired and applied it in a new piece of art.

Circumstance are techniques that just happen without any consideration of other methods, techniques or experiments and are more of habit rather than choice.

Basically, that is the way your learned it and you just complete your art using those same methods out of habit.

Critique Response: “That’s My Style”

Listening to or reading critiques of your own work after pouring hours upon hours into your piece is probably one of the hardest things to do.  If the critiques don’t go as you think they should have, as humans, we instantly become defensive.  Time and time again I hear the same reasoning….”That’s my style.”  Is it?  Is it really?  

I find this to be many default answers to critiques that are either undesirable or not what the artist was expecting.  So how do you know if it is truly your style or if you are limiting yourself?

Choice or Habit?

Are all of the choices in your piece made consciously or did they occur out of habit?

Let me explain:

Artist number one learns a technique and constantly uses that same technique over and over which then becomes habit. Since their learned technique produces results they are happy with they rarely, if ever, explore anything new.  

They know no other way of completing the piece to achieve similar results and thus the piece was created by circumstance or habit. This practice is limiting to the artist’s growth potential and eventually finds themselves unhappy with their work.

Artist number two tries all kinds of techniques and styles.  Constantly finding new ways to
complete their art and grow in their art vocabulary and techniques allowing them to make
informed choices about each and every artwork they complete.  

This practice has helped them to create an individual style by combining these newly learned techniques that will eventually become their signature style.

Critique Through the Proper Lens

When I work with students I always find out what their long and short term goals are. When
critiquing I like to find out what their goals are for the piece they created.  How can I help you or critique your piece if I do not know what your goals are or were for each?  

Since I lean more towards realism, my default would be to critique with those realistic lenses, but if that is not the artists goal then my critique or lessons would be futile.

Practice Different Styles…

even if it isn’t what you want to do.  Not everyone wants to recreate a photo realistic drawing.  I completely understand that, but can you?  Can you make the choice between a tight realistic style of photo realism and loose watercolor or abstract?  

I am not saying create in nonpreferred styles all the time, but to completely dismiss the possibility of giving new styles a try whether you are drawn to them or not really limits technique and style vocabulary.  

There is so much to learn in all styles.  Learning how to approach your piece of art with different styles can really take your artwork to the next level and you might just surprise yourself with what you learn.  Not to mention the difference it makes in your final art piece.

Myself…no I can not complete artworks in every style. In fact, it is very difficult for me to create loose works.  That doesn’t stop me from trying them and learning new ways of approaching the subjects.

I feel these are important steps in my artistic growth and believe I am successful in many of the things I do because of the experiments and working with new mediums and styles.

Don’t Be Afraid To Fail

Do I fail at pieces…absolutely!  Art is a continuous learning process.  As we learn new things we grow and and expand our artistic vocabulary and skills.  Sure, there may be some failures along the way, but without it, what kind of artist would we be today?  I always take away something new from every piece I do.

Now I ask you to consider…..As you create your art, think about the process your use.  Are the choices yours because you you have experimented and know of other ways and, in turn, make conscious stylistic choices or are they from circumstance because you don’t know of another way?

Leave A Comment Below

I would love to hear which artist you consider yourself to be and any new styles or
techniques you would be interested in learning.

Feel free to watch the video below as I discuss this very subject and you can watch my experiment along the way.

Until next time…..Keep On Arting!

Take a look at this video with more discussion on stylistic choice and watch me complete this experiment using three different mediums.  As you can see you can complete nice art pieces even during experiments.

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