I've just finished another 5 week block of teaching Watercolour for Beginners at The Portsmouth Academy and it got me thinking about creative flair or style. That thing about your work that makes it your own. My wonderful students spent the last week of the course doing their own thang and it was really interesting for me to see them letting their inner creative run free and I'm sure you will agree the results (as seen in the above image) are amazing. We chatted about having a fear of the getting things wrong when you are learning and always comparing your self to artists that you admire and never quite measuring up to them. Once I explained that the artists we admire will have found the thing they love to draw and will have drawn it many, many times until they have perfected their technique and found their own style, my students started to understand that it is not an overnight thing or a special talent that you are born with. I shared my own experience of feeling like a failure when I first started and that it wasn't until I saw an artist online rubbing their work out several times that I realised that I didn't have to be perfect first time or any time for that matter! The important thing is to have a go, don't put any expectations on your self about the outcome and enjoy it. After all that is why we all started to draw or paint in the first place! When you just go with the flow and see where your art takes you, it is much more enjoyable and you will be surprised where it can take you. Sometimes a mistake can turn into an opportunity which happened to one lady where she had an unwanted smudge. Her creativety took over and she came up with the solution of painting a red balloon over it. This was a very charming addition to her painting and turned a disaster into a masterpiece. Nowadays, I am kinder to myself and have accepted that I am on a very long journey to discover my own style. I know it will take lots of practice to get to a place where I will be happy with my art work. I know I will have to draw and paint lots and lots to improve my ability and I've made my peace with it. If you have been frustrated with your progress or you struggle to come up with creative ideas, I have a couple of tips I would like to share with you.....
Take the pressure off - Before you start a piece of work, don't have any expectations of how to will end up looking. View it as a practice peice, much like you do when you are using a sketchbook. If you happen to create something you are happy with at the end then it will be a bonus but you won't be disappointed if you don't.
Take a break -If you find you are getting fed up or frustrated, take a break (I like to make a coffee!) and view your work from a distance. You can often see mistakes from a distance that you can't see up close. Watercolour looks very different from a distance and I often find that the work actually looks better from a distance so you might be doing better then you think you are!
Use others artist work as inspiration- If you are struggling with ideas, research other artists and see if you can imitate what they have done. Then think about how you could do things differently. For example, if you have copied a landscape artist style, see if you can take a photo of a local landscape and paint that in the same style. Then see if you can tweak bits and make your own style. It is ok to copy while you are learning but you must never sell it as your own work. You must always credit the original artist if you post your copies online.
I hope you find this helpful and remember as long as you are learning and are enjoying yourself then your time has been well spent.