FAQ: Artistic Style
Artistic Style, A Brief Intro
There are some artists who have a distinct artistic style, you'd recognise their work anywhere. Other artists are inspired by this new work and will research and explore where this style came from, if possible they'll chat with founding artist(s) and create their own work in that style. Often these styles turn into art movements, identified by common themes, popular culture of the era, similar aesthetic traits or use of a particular medium or technique.
In Canada, we see this most notably in the Group of Seven painters; the distinct subject matter of the Canadian wilderness and Canadian identity was an objective for the group and in turn has made their work instantly recognizable.
But style and movements don't just happen out of thin air. This group set themselves this goal and a style emerged from it with intention.
I often have people ask where my style came from and it truly is from subjects and themes that inspire me. I've written a previous blog ranting slightly about how artists finding their voice should really be looking to what inspires them or what they'd like to explore further to start carving out their artistic voice and a body of work. You'll know you've got a solid base for your art to come from when you can explain to someone what your work is all about and why. If you'd like to read my previous blog post about inspiration, you can read it here: I Want To Do What You Do
A Starting Point
So, where has my style developed from? Like many before me, and most artists to come after me, I was heavily influenced by previous art movements. Cubism (1907-1914ish) and Futurism (1909 - 1944ish) really attracted me.
Cubism is known and inspired by breaking everything down into geometric shapes to represent the object or landscape in multiple angles to depict its true essence and form more accurately. The artists represented 3D objects without using perspective or shading. A remarkable concept that gave birth to a distinct artistic style.
Futurism took speed, modernity, science and technology of the day as it's inspiration. Although these artists were not the first generation to use these subjects as inspiration they did develop a unique style. What made them different from their predecessors using the same inspiration was that they were also influenced by Cubism and fragmented forms.
These are movements I could truly admire and be inspired by, simply based on other areas of curiosity in my education. For A-Levels in the UK you pick 3-4 subjects to focus on for 2 years, which will subsequently be a foundation to the course(s) you can apply for at University. The subjects I focused on were visual arts (of course), mathematics, physics and biology. Naturally the other 3 subjects of interest showed up in my creative arts program.
So that's where I started, with Cubism and Futurism, they fit me like a glove.
Adding My Own Perspective
The development of my artistic style since then has been somewhat unconscious. The only conscious theme and decision I have made about where to take it is 'Joy'. I want my work to bring joy. I'm fed up with turning on the news and hear about all the things going wrong in the world. I don't want to document corrupt politicians, social justice/inequalities, poverty or other horrors in our society. Reporters and journalists have that well in hand. These issues show how divided we currently are. We don't need more of that. We need more joy in the world.
I also don't want to create 'shock factor' art. There are many artists that create controversially for the sake of being controversial. I find this to be an 'easy out' for art by an artist who just wants to be a talking point.
So, my work is aiming to express positive emotion(s), while exploring the hope and progress that science and technology bring. I'm trying to demonstrate how one decision moves into another and takes us on a different path, that the future is carved out by all the decisions we have made up to this point. I'm trying to express all of this in a natural setting because that is where it is scientifically proven that humans feel most at peace. In nature, our mental health improves. Colour can reflect and influence our mood, Pablo Picasso once said that, "colours, like features, follow the changes of the emotions." So like a journey, colour can bring you to a better state of mind. I have no doubt that my emotional state at the time of starting a new painting will influence the palette that is ultimately chosen for that piece. I am astonished at the 'Grey' movement that seems to be popular in decorating modern homes in my part of the world. I find it cold and depressing, even with a warm base tone. Yes it's neutral, but man oh man, I find it soulless. I've taken to calling the different grey tones orphanage grey, institution grey, hospital grey, etc. I don't mean any disrespect to anyone who has a grey interior home, but does it make you feel warm, welcome and cosy in your sacred space? I feel like it's sucking the life out of me. The only redeeming feature I can find with grey is that it allows for bright pops of any colour, so maybe it isn't all bad! There's no accounting for taste as they say.
What Goes In, Probably Comes Out?
Anyway, I digress. When I'm working, I'm very careful about what I'm listening to or have going on in the background. Because I'm a slow but steady and methodical painter (see A-Level maths influence!), I find music changes too frequently and I find it difficult to get into a good flow of creativity when that happens. I usually end up listening to podcasts about science (see A-Levels Physics influences!), new technology, psychology and peoples accounts of multidimensional experiences; Ayahuasca and deep meditation for example. These inspire emotions of awe and wonder in me, which undoubtedly show up in my work, keeping me motivated and inspired.
If I'm not listening to podcasts I'll have a reliable movie on, the really cheesy kind where it can only be a happy ending. The ones where you cry happy tears are the best. The last thing I want is to feel depressed when I'm creating.
If you have listened to or read anything about energy, you may have come across research about the Hearts Electromagnetic field and how it is effected by our emotional state. It can be measured up to 3 feet away from the body in all directions! Isn't that amazing you guys!!! We are actually putting out energy and influencing the molecules around us, possibly changing their state, based on our emotions. MIND BLOWING. I love this kind of stuff! I could go off on a tangent here, as it raises infinite questions about consciousness, meditation and the consequences of this information, so I'll just skip my thoughts and send you to the well written article I enjoyed: Cardio Electromagnetic Communication
If that's true, then how I'm feeling while I'm painting is undoubtedly going into my work. And it begs the questions, if the energy that has gone into my work and is now part of it, could it also be detected on a quantum level by those who view it? Could there be some kind of emotional feedback emanating from my painting? Does the type of energy I put into it make a difference? I know, I'm hypothesizing on the outer rims and have neither the scientific expertise or funding to investigate and research this idea but I find it fascinating and think to myself, why not and what if?
The article talks about proof that one persons Electromagnetic frequency can be detected by others, and the discoveries being made by quantum physicists today make me wonder if it's influencing molecules at a deeper level? Will this energy emanate from my paintings not just aesthetically but on a quantum level? Are people feeling what I felt unconsciously? You have to give it to the hippies, and all the folk lore around the world, the energy you put out, man, is what you will receive.
So I guess I went off on a bit of a tangent again, but these are a few examples of where my work comes from and how it is influenced. The concepts and origins may not be truly original or ground breaking inspirations for art (hence the name, How Original Art), but depending on who adds their individual perspective of the world, their unique fingerprint to the mix, and likely their particular energetic frequency, should be enough to bring about an artistic style entirely their own.
Representing the Fractal Nature of Our Existence
My artistic style has come a long way and will, I hope, continue to grow, evolve and develop. It has been described eloquently by people I have had the honour of meeting as 'Representing the Fractal Nature of our Existence'. Isn't that so beautiful?! That one is thanks to Philip Rea, he and I met a the Invermere Farmers & Artists Market in the Summer of 2020. It's much better than the description I'd been using, thank you Philip, your words are inspiring!
It has also been likened to finding pictures in the clouds, again, a beautiful analogy and I can't remember the name of the lady who first described it like that to me. We met at the Pop-Up Shop on Baker Street in December 2020 and if you're reading this article please know I send my gratitude to you!
So there we go, a long story and a couple of scenic routes about my artistic style! I hope you found it interesting and/or amusing!
Here's what I'll recommend to anyone looking to find their artistic voice. Start with what inspires you. What gets you up in the morning? Why? What are you drawn to? How does it make you feel? Where would like others to focus their attention? Keep exploring these questions until you find some commonalities in the themes and that will be your starting point. Don't get hung up on perceived 'talent', see my previous blog about that; The False Concept of Talent.
Just make a start, explore and practice and keep on creating.
The Last Caribou
Oils on Canvas
By Sam Millard