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7 Truthful Tips to Help You Decide on Your Own Painting Style


This debate takes up where calls to ditch Traditional for Abstract styles left off. What's changed is the advent of newer technology for digital painters.

Your concern, at the start of your career, is whether to join the fashion.

So, let me tell you a story - a true story - showing what can happen to an artist when the fashionable tide turns.


  • He developed a new style making him the richest, most famous artist since Picasso. His enormous paintings on shattered pieces of ceramic dishes caused a sensation. Their prices broke records after his 1978 exhibition sold out before it opened.

  • Only nine years later, New York art critics savaged his work, calling it merely 'fashionable.' A television newscast showed patrons at an auction booing as his paintings failed to sell and were passed in.


By now, you may know I'm talking about Julian Schnabel, the American infamous for his 'Plate Paintings.'


  • Schnabel gave up painting after his career collapsed. He went on to become an award-winning film director. He was fortunate in having another talent to turn to but you can imagine the devastation he felt when the Art world bit him.


That heartache need never happen to you, if you bear in mind 7 simple truths.

1. Art fashions are as fleeting as those seen on the catwalk.

Without art historians, few alive today would know about the brief fads for Dadaism or Fauvism in 19th century Paris, but Impressionism - developed in the same period - remains popular around the world.

2. The idea in your mind matters, not your tools.

However, until your art exists as a real object, something people can see, it means nothing to anyone but you.

3. Free yourself from worrying about being 'up to date.'

When you do that, you release all your energy for making art that satisfies you and you'll enjoy your studio time.

4. The simple fact of your uniqueness as a person ensures unique style.

Your art already has its own style. Looking back on the work you've done to date, you'll see a pattern. Pull everything out, spread it over your studio floor and look. Look as if you'd never seen it before.

5. Your natural way of expressing your ideas reveals itself.

The choices you make in each piece are distinctive. In subject matter, in colour schemes, in a loose approach or detailed rendering - a pattern emerges.

You may be too close to it, like a parent blind to the faults or talents of their own children. You can always ask for responses from friends.

6. Follow the direction already showing in your finished paintings.

This helps you focus on the ideas you want to impart and the emotional responses you want to evoke in your audience.

These are the factors that motivate people to part with their hard-earned cash to hang your paintings in their homes.

7. If your manner of working fits with current fashion isn't important.

Time alone judges which Art survives. In the meantime, in your own lifetime, you need to satisfy your own vision.

If it doesn't sell, you have the choice to keep your 'day job,' as true artists have done down the centuries.

Dorothy Gauvin is an internationally acclaimed Australian painter in oils who specialises in an epic theme of Australia's pioneers. See images of her 'Life-Story' portraits, an ABC of homemade tools for painters with arthritis, plus tips and advice for aspiring artists and collectors on her website at

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