5 Ways to Cultivate Your Creative Voice

“How do I develop a unique style? Is there an effective way to do this?” 

Recently, while I was setting up for a morning workshop demonstration, a student asked me the following question; “How do I develop my own unique style? Is there an effective way to do this?” 

I responded to her while arranging my art materials for the morning with a handful of ideas. I want to share them with you now.  Here are five ways to cultivate your creative voice. 

1.    Establish a Rhythm. When you are working toward the development of your own artistic voice, the first pillar to establish is regular working habits. Consistent work will bring you both confidence and momentum in the development of your artistic voice. Take out your calendar and schedule weekly studio time. This is a critical step in the process that should not be ignored. Otherwise, you may end up feeling like a phony and spending valuable energy second guessing yourself. Regular work cultivates the confidence and momentum you need to continue growing.

2.     Gain Inspiration. Discovering your own creative voice requires an understanding of what inspires you. So be sure to fill up your inspiration tank! Who’s your favorite artist? What moves you about their work? Describe it, write it down. What is your favorite painting? Do you remember the way you felt when you first saw it? I remember viewing an exhibition by John Singer Sargeant at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston when I was 25. It permanently altered my creative journey. Why not try copying a favorite painting, just to understand the artist’s mindset and methodology in the work. This is a process of sensitizing yourself to your own artistic tastes, and then moving toward the subjects, textures, colors, shapes, designs, and even finish quality that moves you. Describe how you want to make others feel when they view your work. It can also be helpful to articulate what kind of art you don’t like, and stay away from it in your work! Try creating a mood board of your favorite colors and paintings, textures and surfaces, subjects and designs, and then hang it in your studio to keep you motivated. Get really clear about what you love, so you are moving toward this in your own personal work. 

3.     Be An Explorer. Your artistic voice needs space and time to engage in creative play that allows you to explore new territory. This is when you paint just for yourself. Not for the client or the exhibition or the accolades, but for the pure joy of creating. These other motivations can nurture a performance mindset that obscures our true artistic voice. Basically, we are trying to impress people instead of painting what we love. I don’t know about you, but when I’m performing for approval, I put on a mask. I hope you don’t make this mistake the same way I have. Instead, put on your favorite music, turn off Facebook Live, take off the mask and allow yourself to explore your creative passion. Be an explorer for a while instead of a performer. In time, amazing things begin to happen as you cultivate this type of creativity. Honest work emerges. Authentic expression develops. You discover your voice. 

4.     Get Feedback (from people you trust) It is very difficult to both create and critique your own work toward the development of a unique personal style. As artists, we have a tendency of getting in our own heads. What we often need is the encouragement of others! A great way to do this is to connect with other artists that share your passion and get valuable feedback from them on your work. I joined the CT Pastel Society as a young artist and made wonderful lifelong friends who have encouraged my creative development in powerful ways. Early on, I connected with a few artists at my church. We shared our work with one another, spurring each other on to develop our potential. Not only was I greatly encouraged, but I was able to provide encouragement to others as well. You could be a fantastic source of inspiration to someone else in their own creative development! Here’s the truth, you’ll often be the last one to see the genius in your work. But others will point it out right away. You’ll discount that little painting you made during your personal studio time, thinking, “It’s not even finished, what a mess!” Then your friend will see it and say, “don’t touch it, I love it!” This feedback is invaluable, and creates a trail of breadcrumbs along the way to realizing your own unique style.

5.     Be Patient. Your inner creative voice is more like a dove than a peacock early on. It’s not audacious and showy. It’s sensitive, avoids attention and can get scared away easily at first. You need to give yourself time and space to develop naturally, and trust that consistent, honest work will encourage the dove out of its cage. Forcing it is never a good idea. Give yourself permission to research, explore, create, copy, share, review, revise as well as rest and renew your senses. Before long, you’ll find yourself soaring with a unique creative voice of your own. 

I hope these five points will encourage you in the development of your own personal style. Don’t give up, keep on painting, and keep pursuing your passion!

The Painterly Portrait on Black - PART TWO

Part two of "The Painterly Portrait on Black" is here! I hope you enjoyed the first video. Now it's time to refine our portrait and develop the features as we bring this little African Princess to life. Enjoy!

If you would like to try your hand at the UART Dark Pastel papers and boards, you can find them here. Give it a try, I think you'll love this wonderful, rich dark surface for pastel. Now get out to your easel and create something lush and painterly today!

The Painterly Landscape

This spring has provided me with fantastic opportunities to help artists develop their creative potential in both landscape and portrait workshops from Vermont to Virginia, as well as my home state of Connecticut. We've put together a short video from our last two landscape workshops to give you a glimpse into what a painterly landscape workshop can be like, and share some of the lovely work produced by our workshop participants. 

Check out my list of live workshops below, and come join me at a workshop near you!


Painting Trees in Pastel

Happy spring! The tree blossoms have just decided to bloom this week here in Connecticut, so I must confess to being pretty excited. It's a perfect time to answer a lingering question that many of you have asked me in previous workshops:

"How do you paint trees?"

I thought the most effective way to answer your question would be to actually demonstrate my approach to painting trees in pastel for you. So here's a free video demonstration to help you tackle this exciting subject. As you do, remember this creative tip: suggestion is often more powerful than a literal description when it comes to handling foliage. 

Enjoy the video!

If you found this video helpful, please subscribe to my YouTube Channel! And be sure to post a comment or reply to this email with any other questions you may have. I'll do my best to address them in future videos.

Check out my list of live workshops below, and come join me at a workshop near you!

Looking for Inspiration?

Workshops are such an inspiring time of collaboration and growth for all involved. I just hosted a portrait workshop sponsored by our friends at UART Premium Sanded Paper. We thought you would enjoy a window into our creative experience, so we made a video to give you a taste of our time together! What a fun and talented group of artists came together to encourage one another in their creative development and learn with me. 

Are you looking for some further inspiration yourself? Don't miss out on upcoming opportunities to grow! View our 2018 workshop schedule here.

P.S. Just listen to what Pam had to say about her workshop experience:

"This class was extremely well planned. There was optimum time for thorough and masterful demonstrations, and yet ample time for individual studio work.  It was a perfect balance.  Alain met each of us at our own level and made us feel comfortable.  I learned so much in just a few days!" -Pam

 

Pastel Study of a Scottish Loch

I've already been dreaming of the upcoming Scotland Paint Away Workshop in July, 2018. I couldn't help myself, and created a quick pastel video of an inspiring Scottish loch to spread the wonder with you. I hope you enjoy this short demonstration painting. Register now to join me next July and create your own inspiring paintings in Scotland!

Paintings That Tell A Story

Everyone loves a good story. Are your paintings communicating clearly and purposefully with a unique voice that speaks to your viewer? As visual artists, we are storytellers. We have a desire to express ourselves through our work. We do this by communicating with pictures to engage the viewer's imagination. This video will give you four tips to telling a compelling story through your art.

Traveling with Pastels

It's travel season here, with a number of art workshops in different areas throughout the country and abroad. Many of you have asked me what to bring and how to pack for a travel art workshop, especially when going abroad. In this video, I'll show you how to pack your carry-on luggage with all the pastel painting supplies needed for an efficient, portable painting setup. 

Simply click here for the Travel Supply List with a lot of products that I recommend.

Would you like to join me in an upcoming workshop? Are there obstacles to your creative growth that you'd love to overcome in an inspiring and encouraging environment? There are some amazing opportunities just around the corner. We even have a couple of spots left next week in my Capturing Light: California workshop! Check out my workshop schedule, and find a workshop near you. I'd love to encourage your creative development.

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5 Tips To Better Color - Part Two

As promised, the followup video to last week's lesson, "5 Tips To Better Color" is here! I did my color exercise, and I hope you tried one as well. In this video, you'll see the results of my color study and the painting that emerged from this unique color approach. Enjoy! 

So...did you take a crack at a color exercise? Please leave me a comment and let me know. I'd love to find out how you did, and whether you got a color breakthrough!

Want to learn more in an inspiring and encouraging environment? There are some amazing opportunities just around the corner to join me in a workshop, all the way from California to Croatia! Check out my workshop schedule, and find a workshop near you.

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5 Tips To Better Color

Are you wondering how to get better color in your work?

I have been asked by many of you for help with color. I certainly want my paintings to sparkle with fresh color, and I bet you do as well! This new video shares five tips that you can use right now to improve the color in your work!  I'm confident that if you do these five simple things, the brilliance of your paintings will shine through with newfound freshness.  

Once you finish watching this short video, clear a pathway to your easel and start practicing these five tips to better color! Then, look out for part two of this video, as I share the results of my own color exercise with you.

In addition to the video, we've created a worksheet that you can print out and tack up next to your easel. This way you can put these five tips to work for you right away! Click the link below to download the worksheet.

Looking for even more inspiration and creative support? Check out my workshop schedule to find a workshop near you! Now have some fun with color.

 

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2nd Biennial International Pastel Exhibition

I am so honored to be one of several prominent artists associated with the International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS) who has been invited to the 2nd Biennial International Pastel Exhibition in Suzhou, China as a special guest and workshop instructor. I am really looking forward to this exciting cultural exchange and pastel celebration.

I hope to share more of my experiences in Suzhou with you in the coming weeks!