You are here to add your flavor to the dish of life no matter what you believe your purpose is here on earth. When you finally discover yourself as an artist of life and you know what you want to do, you will love it inside and out. In this article I will highlight the outer and the inner perspective of discovering and exploring your own art style and how they both intertwine.
Even though I’m a painter I believe an artists is someone with a limitless number of expressions. You are the artist of your life and anything creative that you dreamed of and stepped out to do – is art.
To be able to discover your art style you need to have discovered yourself as an artist first. I have already written an article about it and suggest you read it first because your art style starts with you. If you don’t know yourself as an artist you can’t discover your authentic art style, and it will most likely be a copy of someone else.
Talking about influences from the outer world is important, because you can’t live without being influenced and you can’t live without influencing. It always goes both ways. So to be able to understand what you are about to give out you must first understand and be aware of what you have inside.
Let’s say you have discovered yourself as an artist and you want to express yourself in some of the more traditional ways we look at creativity, for example painting, singing, writing music, dancing, or sculpting and designing. If you are certain about the way and the technique you want to express yourself in, but you’re new and haven’t discovered your specific style yet, it can be a very tricky task. It’s not because you don’t have it already but because of the influence of everything around you. It is important to remember you can’t give what you don’t have. We all know this but we tend to forget it while starting to look around us and being affected by what others do and think.
This leads us towards the two approaches we will highlight in this article to clarify how you can discover your art style and what actually makes an impression on your creative self.
The Outside Influences
As creatives and as human beings in general we are highly influenced by our surroundings and the people around us, both the closest like family and the ones we keep at a distance. We are never in a state of not being affected. We are always influenced by something. Always. This means you are a subject to being moulded wherever you go, by whatever you see, read, or listen to. There is no off button for your mind and emotions, even if we can be blunted to a level that we don’t think we are impacted by the stimuli and energy around us. All signals and energies in your environment are affecting you. This might prompt some questions for you: why talk about how the outer world affects me when I am supposed to find my art style? And that’s exactly why. Because you can’t move in this world without being marked from the outside and in.
We often talk about bringing your inner voice out, that’s what we think of when we think of discovering a personal art style. And we will give that a shot as well, that’s our other approach, just keep reading. But in order to illuminate the inside we still need to consider the factors affecting a person outside; in their environment and which circumstances they are facing. No one is an island in the ocean living completely alone, we are all tied together and are interfering with other people, things, and events that disturb us on a deeper level. It affects our inner self. This is not always a bad thing or something we need to avoid (unless it’s negative habits, destructive relationships or harsh events), but we need to become aware of the impact it has.
Let’s take a look at where you are at the moment. It’s almost like mapping out important parts of your life on a daily level.
I like structure so I suggest you make two lists. The first list is of five things/subjects that make you incredibly happy or curious. The other list is of five things that trigger you and make you upset. Why? Because there is a great indicator in where your attention is drawn. To what your attention goes, there your focus will go, and whatever that is will grow in your life.
For example, I am very fascinated by human faces and can “study” or look at someone for too long (which can become awkward, yes I know). So this is a fascination and it makes me happy or interested to know more about it. To see different shapes of eyes, to see the depth in someone’s eyes or the innocence in the eye of a child. It draws my attention and I spend time doing it. It is the same with what you like and feel happy doing. Do you feel great when you take a long walk in nature, or do you like strolling in a gallery? This might appear like simple questions to you but when you’re searching to discover your style you can never ignore yourself, or you’ll end up looking at others and making a copy. That won’t last for long. It doesn’t matter what it is, just make sure you find your own fascinations.
The other list with things that are upsetting and triggering to you is the indicator of things you care for on a deeper level, and it’s often things not working well or that have some dysfunction tied to it. The dysfunction is a sign itself. For example, if you get upset seeing a lot of rubbish in nature it’s most likely you will be most affected when hearing, reading, or listening to news about the environment and sustainability.
It doesn’t end there. You remember the information better and in more detail when it’s connected to your values. The things that affect you on a deeper level are often also the things that you’ve, by design, got the power to make a change in. For me as an artist it’s important to make a change, and I truly believe we all are created to make changes for the better in other people’s lives and our own.
Having a list of these things clarifies what you are more influenced by from the outside. Still, it’s like mirroring yourself because it comes back to what you are drawn to and upset about. Let everything that comes be without judgment. There might be levels of yourself that you haven’t paid attention to before, and the unfamiliar can be scary at first, but that will extend your artistic vein.
If you’ve already made some creative pieces I suggest you take a look back at them with an objective viewpoint, as much as possible while it’s still you looking at it. What do you see? Is there something that’s recurring? There probably is. If you can’t see anything directly, take some time to look closer. You may also want to ask someone else and that may broaden your perception and leave you with a new perspective. Sometimes the fact that the creative side of you is varying is what is recurring.
With the lists we can start to understand what influences you from the outside based on your personality and your values. I am certain you have the power to change the world around you with your creativity. Mesmerize people with the beauty of a painting or contribute to reflection and new angles with your clothing brand.
Let’s jump over and start focusing on your inner voice.
The Inner Voice
What is an inner voice you might wonder? I have asked myself this question several times, because I’m interested in understanding the reason behind someone’s creation as a human and also the stands someone takes in order to make a change in this world.
I will share my personal story with you. I started painting and that is my technique, once I knew that was the one for me (not limited to but what I’ve chosen to focus on) I asked myself what do I paint now? What am I drawn to? What do I want to express not only through a single painting but overall?
Myself, I know I am drawn to people because we are the most complex beings on this Earth. We have been given the opportunity to make choices which in turn leads to the complexity of society we see today. We build our lives by choice even if most of us aren’t aware of the power of free will that leads us. We are chained to our past and to emotions like emotions are something we can hold on to, like a child holds on to a baby blanket. We do it without knowing the consequences in the long run. It surely makes a difference in our emotional state of being. If we are grown-ups holding on to a baby blanket like a child, we’re not able to mature in the way we are supposed to and we won’t let the emotions flow through us naturally.
To be and stay creative and release your inner highest level of creativity you need to be able to work through and let go of emotions. Your true self is often hidden behind the faces of emotions.
The questions made me sparkle on the inside and I continued to paint portraits, especially eyes. To me the eye is crucial in the human body because it gives us the insight to something that is beyond the physical. Our eyes are a gateway and the fact that another human is able to get a glimpse of your soul by looking into your eyes is very fascinating. The message I found myself saying over and over again was more of a question: is it true we need to stay chained in the way we do today? Do we need to let past experiences define our entire future or are we free to make another choice every second and therefore go in a new direction? The question had a ripple effect and more questions were born throughout the process of discovering my own art style.
I have also been influenced by the pandemic and situations people close to me and also myself have been going through. I have painted portraits of people suffering from a lack of intimacy and being completely alone as an expression of the time we, without any warning, were running to. My inner voice has become stronger the more I have listened to it.
We often say go and find yourself and your inner voice. The truth is it’s nothing to be found because everything that is you has always been there. You and the completion of your being is not something you need to go and pick up traveling to the other side of the world.
It is time to start listening to yourself. When you do so you will hear your voice. It might be the whisper you never took notice of before, the voice you silenced so many times you thought it was gone. It’s not. It can’t be because it is you and as long as you live with breath in your lungs your inner voice will be there. I highly suggest you start listening to it and being very mindful of what it’s telling you. As it is for all voices, it will grow when you confirm it. You start to listen and you begin to confirm it and it will speak louder and louder. If you question if it really is your voice, it is easy to figure out: are you at peace? Aggravation is never the default state of being.
A practical example is you start to sculpt with clay and after two hours you feel very tired, a little upset, and you have been thinking about calling your aunt to see if she is well because it has been two years since the last time you spoke. You get my point here, sculpting with clay is not your form of expression. The opposite is also true, when expressing in your style you feel at ease and you are absorbed in the process, time flies and afterwards you feel happy and content.
Turning off the outer noise (the one planted in our mind that runs most of our thoughts on a daily basis) is important, and to be able to face your voice whatever it comes with when it returns as well. Again I want to point out, there has to be no judgment in the listening part. An open mind and big heart will facilitate your voice to express itself. Give it a try and express what comes to you. If you paint as I do, mix colours, don’t always blueprint the outcome, experiment, be spontaneous and curious. As mentioned, your inner voice needs attention and confirmation to grow.
To summarize, we have gone through the two aspects of how to discover your personal art style. Looking from the outside perspective there are positive things and challenges that mirror what you are drawn to and affect you on a deeper level and generate some of your actions in your daily life. Then we touched on the area of starting to listen to your inner voice. We understand it’s a process and we need to stay open and alert. No one can be a better listener to your inner voice than you, don’t ignore and neglect it.
I want to mention this again, you cannot give what you don’t have. Therefore, the time you take to discover yourself can be the most important, most well invested time of your life.
The time for you to express and speak up with your own voice and in your own style is now. When you see what you’ve got, you can begin to create with what has been given to you. Other people will start recognizing it and what you do will be recognized and multiplied.
Your success is within you and no one else can say or do anything to take that away. I hope you take the time and apply what you’ve read so that you won’t miss out on the greatness that has been planted in you as a seed. Creativity is not limited and neither is your art style. Recognizing the seed and appreciating all of it in the stage it is, listening to your voice and starting to express yourself in the environment that you thrive the most in – doing these things will allow you to discover your art style.
Annamaria Johansson is a full time artist based in Stockholm. She was born in 1986 in a city called Östersund which lies in the northern part of Sweden. At an early age, Annamaria had great urge to paint and draw. Her work is strongly influenced by the candid description of being a human in today’s society. Annamaria’s travels have allowed her to collect a lot of experience from all parts of the world, including inspiration from Zanzibar, Cape Verde, Vietnam, Dominican Republican, New York and Europe.
Annamaria’s latest artworks can be found at: www.beyondartwork.com
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