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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Creating Your Style

(Note:  Henceforth, content from each Composing & Drawing Tip Newsletter will appear here each Saturday morning.  If you are subscribed to both, feel free to unsubscribe from one of them to prevent duplicates arriving via email.)

During the twenty-four years of our private art school, we held a student show at the end of each twelve-week session.  Amid these, responses to student work that delighted me most were people asking how many teachers we had.  Folks couldn't believe that the diversity of styles had emerged under the same teacher.  Even the first quarter drawing students' work was already showing a unique style.


What I have noticed among all performers, whether artists or athletes, is that those who excel and reach greatness have a unique style, unlike any other.  An example is evident in baseball pitchers.  Craig Kimbrell, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz each have baffled one hitter after another, yet each stance and pitch is totally different from the other.


There are three kinds of styles:  the imitated style, the evolved style and the hybrid style.  The imitated style comes from the performer's intentional adapting a style of someone else.  The evolved style is often called "self-taught" because it is one that comes naturally to a person without any conscious influence.  The hybrid style mixes all that comes naturally mixed with influences by what one sees in or is taught by others.  What we notice is that the style of our greatest performers is most often hybrid.

To the question of how does one find one's style, the real answer is by not trying.  Those who do try eventually lose their natural expression to mechanical imitation, but those who focus their attention of developing the skills required for masterful performance will evolve their unique style without trying. 

We are not to worry about whether our style gets influenced because whatever we identify with in another's skill set is inherently ours to begin with, otherwise we would not recognize it nor desire it. A skill is universal, it is how something gets done.  It is not a talent, but an ability.  In the long run, when our focus is on developing and practicing our skills, each of them will become our own.  We will grow our own signature use of it.  And out of that our style emerges.  

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