Discover Your Personal Art Style

Why Are You An Artist Anyway?

Painting the Self Portrait: Matt Abraxas

photo by Jason Frinchaboy

I am an artist because I have an inherit need to express something creatively.  I have an extremely strong impulse to create, and it’s not rewarding to me unless what I create excites me.

I guess that all artists are artists because of a similar reason.  We all have a need in us to create something, to express something, to share something about our own lives, and it makes no difference if it is as simple as a drawing of an apple or as mysterious as a complicated abstract collage.  We need to create.

Learn The Words Before You Give A Speech

Many artists are taught to express first and always, and only on the side learn technique.  For certain forms of art, this might work.  It’s certainly helpful for therapeutic art, but in order to truly refine your creation until it matches the impulse that gave it life in the first place, you must learn skills.  You have to build a vocabulary before you can express your thoughts in words.

If you are drawn to representational art, then there is a hell of a lot of vocabulary to learn.  Sometimes, I actually try out abstract art again just to see if I can get away with less refinement of skills, but always it leaves the impulse wanting.  I have to create a life-like image, and to do so, I have had to study and I continually have to study.

Forcing It Or Avoiding It?

It’s common in Art Schools for pupils to search out their style, to explore it like trying on costumes and seeing if it feels right.  I think it’s important to test styles of technique and medium, to see what provokes the most Joy within you.  Testing out a personal style, however, only slows your own true growth.

You can’t find out who you are by pretending to be others.  You find out who you are when you stop pretending all together.

Many artists (usually those who are getting into later in life) do just the opposite: they merely try to get the drawing right and find satisfaction in a pretty good likeness.  There is nothing wrong with this, but I do wonder if there is not more to your desire than you give credit.  I so hope that a budding artist never doubts their own instincts and whatever it is that makes them unique.

Regardless of where you’re at, discovering your personal art style is a matter of questioning.

Living The Question: What Do I Want To Say?

Rainer Maria Rilke, the Bohemian poet and novelist wrote: “Live the questions now…” explaining that it is more important to be open to the mystery of life and allow it to unfold for you.  It is no different for your personal art style.  As you create, as you resolve the impulses with refining your craft until new impulses churn up, you are not creating an end product, you are in a process of asking “what do I want to say?”

This isn’t a question in which you form an answer.  The answer comes over time, it unveils itself through your life and experience.  The art itself is the answer and it continually takes form.  Living the question means to be open to the discovery without making any conclusions about it.

…I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903

What Do You Want To Say?

I’d love to hear of any one else’s experience with discovering your own art style.  I know that mine is what it is, and that style is only part of the solution to the initial impulse.

Matt Abraxas Fine Art and Illustration Studio

~Matt Abraxas

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