He told me to go and find an artist that I admired and copy their style until I found one of my own.
I was quite outraged! Here I was trying really hard to reproduce what I saw and he was telling me that it was so hopeless I should copy someone else? I missed his point at the time, of course.
I had chosen to study Illustration at Harrow because at the time Fine Arts courses in the UK had ceased to teach techniques in favour of self-expression and experimentation. I loved the first two years of pure drawing, but when it came to creating full page spreads and doing as I was told, I retreated back to the first year’s drawing sessions. I would hide in the photography dark rooms rather than bother with the typography press. I made a train necklace out of tiny etching plates instead of making prints. Oh dear, poor Mr Bartlett. He was trying to help me make a living of course; I needed to compete with hundreds of other equally talented people in the cut throat advertising world. I left college and failed miserably. Or happily, whichever way you look at it. I still don’t do as I’m told.
I now understand what he meant, but I still don’t agree.
I really think that ‘style’ just creeps up on you though. It is born of confidence in your technique and materials. Of practice and experience and just plain hours of slog. And mainly of many, many failures. It comes when you stop worrying about the end result and just get on and have another bash. It develops over time and you don’t even notice it until someone says ‘oh I knew that was one of yours’ and you notice that you’ve actually found your own voice quite by accident.
I love to paint - and draw - and help others to discover their creative side too.....
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