Saturday, October 31, 2009

MAM Poll (October) Results - What has influenced your style of art?

Main influences on your style of art
copyright Katherine Tyrrell / Making A Mark
The main influence on your style of art is YOU! Individual preferences reigned supreme on October's Making A Mark Poll. CLICK THE IMAGE to see a larger version of the chart and review the categories.

60 people responded and provided 160 responses in this month's multi response poll - giving an average of 2.7 responses per person

What's the main influence of your style of art?
  • The top influence on your style is the way you prefer to work - 21% of you voted for this as being their #1 influence on their style of art
  • 16% of you were very influenced by the way you prefer to make marks
I know 'the way way I prefer to work' was certainly my top answer.

However, if we all stop to think, I wonder how much of our preferences are determined by the media we use, the place we grew up, the art we're used to seeing and our first art teacher. It's important to recognise that a lot of our preferences are driven by what we 'know' and what we're used to. However they're often totally unconscious influences which we wouldn't necessarily articulate. They are aspects which you begin to become more conscious of as somebody tries to get you to try out working in a different way - and you discover, maybe for the first time, that you've got some inbuilt resistance to working in a different way. It's then interesting to tease out why that is.

I find it easier to say with confidence that my preference for working in dry media is not something that has been influenced by other people. That's a preference which carries over into all sorts of other areas and is about the feel of the media I'm using as it touches the paper or support. For example, I can't write with certain pens because they don't 'feel' right to me. I like the contact I get between media and the page without having a tool (like a brush) coming inbetween.

I'me guessing that the way we prefer to make marks tends to differentiate mainly those that like to be precise from those that like being more painterly or expressionistic. However if we think about that for a bit how much of these preferences are driven by
  • art that we've seen
  • emotions that we feel
In other words - how much of your style is determined by external influences and how much by who you are as an individual?

Other important influences included:
  • past art movements (14%) - I don't know what you all think - but I do know that I've certainly experienced a wish to work in the same way as particular painters from the past at various times. If you read many artists's artist statements you often see people referring to the artists who have influenced them. What I find fascinating is that it's perfectly possible to change your mind about this when you get to see paintings by that artist up close. Seeing the technique required to produce the desired effect can often lead to a rethink about whether you really want to paint like that!
  • your culture (13%) - I'm reminded from time to time that we tend to only look at art from our own cultures. It's good sometimes to remember that art is global and that different cultures tend to portray subject matter in different ways. It's also very interesting to see what happens when western artists try incorporating other cultures into their art
  • the media you use (11%) - I'm minded to say that this for me is again an indicator that an artist has found their style. If I can tell who the artist is irrespective of which painting media they are using then that artist has a strong style
Does your style vary with the media you use?

What are the less influential factors?

The factors which emerged as less influential included:
  • art teachers (8%) - we often hear about people copying the way their tutors work or trying to work in the same way as the author of an art instruction book. While it undoubtedly happens, this poll suggests that it's not seen as an important factor by most people
  • finding the right genre for you (8%) - which I guess means that those who have established a style draw or paint pretty much the same way irrespective of which genre a drawing or painting belongs to. I've always maintained that stylistic unity across different subject matter is a jolly good indicator that an artist has found the style which works for them
7% of the responses came from people who considered they didn't yet have any sort of style at all. On of the basis that people will only have said this once, this is about 11% of the people who responded to the poll.

Only a couple of people thought style was either something you have - or you don't!

Interestingly when I came back to this poll this morning I saw that I'd left out a factor which changed my style. That's about what happens when you switch sizes. Working on much bigger supports really changed the way I worked with pastel - it became a lot more painterly. That in turn influenced how I worked with dry media when sketching when I came back to working small.

But I forgot to ask you "Does size matter?" ! Maybe that's a topic for a future poll! ;)


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