I had a bit of a breakthrough yesterday!
Over the last few years I’ve had a big problem with my paintings. I’ve been trying to learn to paint like other people – people whose paintings I admire immensely. But it just leads to complete frustration. I’ve learned so much but I can’t paint like them and I probably will never be able to. Why? Because I’m NOT them. This might seem obvious to some of you but I’ve been trying so hard and I always felt like I was failing. I couldn’t find a ‘style’ that fit.
Yesterday the solution finally clicked into place. I had been working on a small canvas and I just got to a point where I was so stuck that I didn’t feel like I could finish it because I didn’t really know how to. I was trying to paint a vase of flowers in a semi-realistic style. This, despite knowing that I don’t do realism. My favourite type of art is abstract, and I enjoy doing that. I wasn’t enjoying this semi-real style at all and that’s because my skills don’t match up, which led to me feeling really unhappy with it.
(I’m actually embarrassed to post this photo, I dislike it that much! Plus the lighting’s bad and the photo is grainy…)
My daughter observed that I didn’t care about it enough, and she was right!
So I painted over it, and had a complete rethink. I sketched out what I wanted to paint on paper. This is something I never normally do.
Then I sketched the same thing out onto the canvas. And then I knew. All of a sudden I knew that THIS painting would be ALL ME. This painting would be in my own style. This painting used a simplified but visually-similar style (the doodled flowers) to the very first canvas I ever painted (below), which lives on top of a bookcase here at TFT HQ.
The new painting is not fancy or overly technical, but it’s bright and bold and pleasing to the eye, and most importantly, it’s authentically ME. It combines zendoodling (my first love) with acrylic painting.
I’ve come full-circle. I’ve found my own style, by going right back to the beginning. This is very satisfying! No longer will I try to paint like other people. From now on I am only going to paint in my own Zoe Ford style. Because nobody does Zoe Ford style like I do Zoe Ford style
I think for my next one I will put some more texture into the background, but I’m happy enough without it. I also really like the flat 2D style; it reminds me of illustrations you might find in childrens’ books.
If you’re learning to paint and struggling to find your own style, I highly recommend going back to the first paintings you tried, the first one you did that made you feel so happy. I’m confident that your own unique style can be found there.
Have you had any breakthroughs lately, either in your art or your life?