I’m taking an online marketing class from Jason Horejs. It’s free* and so far I think it’s been pretty good. In today’s lesson he spoke about consistency. He’s interested in it from a marketing standpoint: it’s easier to sell work that hangs together, that’s instantly recognizable as being from one artist. This, he points out, is your ‘brand’.
I’m illustrating this post with four paintings by famous masters. I’m sure any of you art-history pros can identify the artists without breaking a sweat. Now, extend that lesson to your own work, and you can see what Horejs is driving at.
As a teacher, I see consistency as a mark of maturity and mastery. All young painters copy; it’s part of the learning process. In so doing, their style tends to waver.
To some degree a certain amount of copying is unavoidable. If your students use the same pigments, the same primer, the same brushes, the same medium as you—well, to a degree their painting is going to look like yours. Still, they need to move past that and find their authentic voice.
Early in my painting education, I took a class from a mediocre teacher. I was having trouble marrying the edges of my paints, and that left big thick lines. “That’s your style,” he exclaimed. No; that was someone else’s style, and for me it was a phase. If I’d followed his advice, I could have ended up being one of those people who jumps from style to style without ever developing my own voice.
Style is not something you apply to your painting. It’s what’s left over when you’ve stripped as many mistakes as you can out of your painting. It’s what happens when you try to look at something and represent it as honestly as you can. If you approach style like that, instead of saying, “I want to paint like so-and-so” you will get to consistency a lot faster.
* With the very minor exception of his book from Amazon, which hardly broke the bank.
Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me in Maine in 2015 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.
The works above are:
Water Lilies, Claude Monet, 1917-19
The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, Caravaggio, 1601-02
Dedham Lock and Mill, John Constable, 1820
My Egypt, Charles Demuth, 1927