Book Excerpts

Style Development

Swan Tapestry

I first became aware of how my style was developing while painting Swan Tapestry. I simply painted the swan and flowers with deliberateness. When it came to the water, I wasn’t sure how to proceed and began searching my art books for the best way to recreate the reflections in the water. Finding nothing quite right, I thought “Why don’t you paint the water the way Ellen Diederich would paint it?” and I did.


Let’s get over a few hang-ups about the importance of style right now. People are going to be interested in your art because of the way you express your opinion. They will recognize your style when it appears.


I recently heard a juror say, “Leave it to the viewer’s imagination.” Personally, I want to show others how I see things through my own eyes.


Using your ability to express yourself is the key to having a natural style. Perhaps you prefer certain tools or gesture in a certain way. This tendency may be helpful, so you habitually repeat it, possibly in different ways. By focusing on what appeals to you in your subject matter and making that important, you’ll find ways to express your personal insight. Whatever is personal, sincere, unforced and generally simple, will strengthen your work and your identity.


Trying hard to be different simply looks like you are trying hard to be different. Maintaining a positive attitude and persisting through all the pitfalls with patience will help you develop your own personal ways of handling problems that arise in your paintings. Just keep working and your style will develop over time.


Your preferences and your habits influence your style. For example, I have a major interest in edges and how they relate to each other. I also love my one-inch flat brush but don’t want it to obvious. Therefore, I developed a habit of moving my brush so you can’t tell which brush I am using. I still make an effort to see the uniqueness of each painting and develop that rather than letting my style become predictable.


Excerpt from Progressive Painting: Your Creative Journey © Ellen Jean DiederichGivinity Press

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