Maintaining Your Personal Style

    Dancing with Yupo

    Like most artists, I enjoy taking art workshops and classes from time to time to hone my artistic skills as well as for the camaraderie of being around other artists.  I am currently taking a class in which the instructor often asks us to study and paint in the style of another artist.  There is much to be learned from this approach, but it can also be uncomfortable to work in a style that is different from your own especially if it is different to an extreme.  When this happens, I often find myself rebelling against the proposed project or wondering if there is any value in trying to work in an alien artistic style.

    Most recently, we watched a video called "Dancing with Yupo" in which the artist uses a full sheet of yupo paper, a very large brush, and an abundance of fresh paint to create very loose, expressive paintings.  Her technique of slapping gobs of paint on the slick yupo surface without any initial drawing or compositional planning other than a reference photo is a huge departure from my own carefully planned, meticulous style.  

    I usually work from detailed drawings and frequently mask out areas I want to remain white before applying paint to the paper.  My largest brush is a one-inch Langnickle, but I usually use much smaller brushes.  I like painting on the glossy surface of yupo, but my intent is always to restrain the paint.  I allow it to mix and flow in limited areas, but I always impose boundaries.  If my paint crosses those boundaries, I wipe it off and try again.. My style is all about control, control, control!

    So I ask myself, what can I learn from this exercise?  Will this violation of my personal style be worth the frustration or will it be a waste of my time and money?  (Watercolor tubes are expensive!) 

    I have doubted before -- on a project using Doak spray paints and pressing a variety of grasses, and leaves, and fibers into it, for example -- and yet I was quite pleased with some of the results I obtained.  But this time I think I may forego the assigned project and stay true to my own style.  As much as I admire the looser style of many watercolor artists, I like my own, unique style too much to abandon it so completely as "Dancing with Yupo" would require.



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