Finding Your Art Style + Celebrating 30K
Hello, everyone! It’s Mar here, and since I’ve never formally introduced myself, let me do that now — I’m Etchr’s Social Media Manager and I have been part of the team since August of 2019. Some of you guys may already know me from Instagram or Facebook.
I’m just chiming in to let you know that Etchr, being just over three years old, has already grown into a family of over 30,000 creative, quirky, amazing people. To celebrate and to thank you, we wanted to host a big art challenge open to every single artist in our community. What better way to celebrate this milestone than by making more art, right?
But before we get to that, I want to highlight a few awesome artists (there are way too many of you guys) that participated in our first art competition this year -- a DTIYS (Draw This in Your Style). Today, I interview Jasmin, Carol Buswell, and Anastasija Gusol. They bring us amazing art and a few nuggets of wisdom we can all benefit from.
Let the interviews begin!
What was your process like?
JASMIN: I was sketching out a couple of rough sketches digitally to find a composition I like. The next step was drawing the line-art in pencil on my paper. To pick the right colors, I experimented a bit with Photoshop until I was pleased with the result. Then I tried to create the colors as best as I could with gouache and finished the painting.
CAROL: A few months ago I coated the canvas cover of my Etchr Sketchbook with two layers of Gamblin Oil Ground, sanding in-between each one. I was going to paint a landscape on the cover and use this sketchbook for small studies and oil sketches. Over the past year, I’ve been experimenting with applying oil ground to sheets of watercolor paper and have found it makes a wonderful plein air surface and thought this would be a handy size for such work.
I used the same materials and techniques employed in my Plein air work: alla prima with a limited palette (titanium white, cadmium yellow light, cadmium yellow deep, alizarin crimson, cadmium red light, ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, transparent red oxide). I initially toned the whole surface with a mixed neutral cut with Gamsol and then gestured in my main lines and shapes with the same mix. Working macro to micro, I developed larger shapes first, refining them as I went, keeping the same level of completion and surface quality as I worked.
ANASTASIJA: When I saw the reference picture, it kind of looked like the llama in the background was standing on the llama in the foreground, sort of like an optical illusion. So, I thought it might be a fun idea to draw exactly that -- which brought me to the idea of drawing a big llama that's being "chewed" by tiny baby llamas. Since I was directly inspired by the reference picture, I didn't sketch out any ideas because I knew exactly what I wanted. I started by doing the sketch and refining and coloring it. I thought the second tiny llama might be a cute addition to empathize with what I wanted to show. I did all of it digitally with procreate on my iPad pro.
Above: art by Jasmin (@jasmminart)
Did you have a definite vision of what you wanted to create?
JASMIN: My goal was to draw the llama of course, so the subject was clear. I only made what I enjoy the most at the moment and tried to represent my style. The vision of how it will look at the end will often develop during the process.
CAROL: Yes, when I set out to put paint to canvas I had a plan, but that was after a few days of playing around with the composition. For example, the initial idea was to paint a face mask over the lama since we are in the midst of a pandemic, however, it didn’t quite look right to me. I also considered having the other llamas in the painting, but ended up removing them to make the statement about social distancing during the pandemic.
ANASTASIJA: When I was drawing, I also imagined some kind of story to it, which I do in general. With this one, I thought that the big llama might be a mom who's a little annoyed by her babies "chewing" her -- like she was thinking "Why did I have kids?" or "I regret everything".
When did you settle or come into the style you currently have?
JASMIN: For me it feels like I am still on my journey of finding my unique style. My style is still changing from time to time, because I am getting inspiration from other artists a lot.
CAROL: I’ve spent the past year working exclusively with this palette and have been working alla prima since 2017. I am always learning and am now a student at an atelier. I imagine my style will continue to evolve as I grow as an artist.
ANASTASIJA: I've been in the process of developing my style for many years now. It changes constantly and I never settle because I always feel like there is something I can improve. I might like how things are right now, but in a few weeks I might want to try something a bit different. Sometimes I just draw and my style changes unconsciously and develops naturally -- it's like my brain combines different features I subconsciously picked up from looking at other people's art.
What advice can you give those still struggling to find their style?
JASMIN: My advice for other artists is to stay inspired and just keep drawing. Your art style will develop over a long period of time. Look at different people's artworks and ask yourself why you like it. It can be the color scheme, the composition, the overall dynamic... Try to learn from it and integrate this one thing you enjoy the most in your own art. Create a mixture of many inspirations you love and you will develop your style. Also, it is possible to have more than one art style.
CAROL: You find yourself by being yourself, that is by being an artist. Paint or draw every day, even if only for 5 minutes. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes or “ugly work”, as you have to experiment and be ok with failure. Not everything is “post-worthy” and you don’t have to share it. Also, try to stick with 1 medium for the long haul, and become a master of it. Make friends with other artists and talk shop, join your local art group. Visit a museum to gallery and be open to other styles. Read an art book. You gain an appreciation by study, you develop a style by doing.
ANASTASIJA: Finding your art style is a never-ending journey. There is no ultimate goal, only small steps as a part of the journey. Lots of small goals will help you improve and develop [your skills]. I think it helps to get inspired by other artists and their art, and to try out different things to see what works and what doesn't. It's a good idea to look at a specific style and think about what you like about it and how you could integrate it into your own style. You will always discover something new you might like and want to try out. All of these influence and change your style -- sometimes by a bit, sometimes by a lot. It's important to just draw and let your imagination run wild and make your brain do the rest and draw the way that comes naturally to you.
So, it doesn't matter if you're a traditional or a digital artist, or if you jump between the two. Jasmin, Carol, and Anastisija all have very, very different styles, but all of them agree on these three things: explore different styles, don't be afraid to fail, and keep making more art!
OUR NEXT ART CHALLENGE:
To celebrate our family of 30,000 awesome members, let's all make more art! Our next and biggest art challenge in this series to date is...
DRAW THIS AGAIN!
We're not only celebrating our success, but yours as well! A Draw This Again challenge is the perfect way to celebrate how far you've come. In this challenge, all you have to do is pick an old piece of art you made earlier in your artistic journey and recreate it. The older the artwork, the better -- we want to see everything you've learned along the way reflected in the recreated piece!
And since every success deserves a reward, we're giving away not one, not two, but THREE PRIZES to three artists that wow us with their progress. Out top three picks will win The Perfect Sketchbook (1st prize), a Mini Palette (2nd prize), and an Etchr Mirror (3rd prize)!
Hurry -- you only have one week! Make sure to tag us on Instagram with the hashtag #etchrartchallenge so we can see it. The deadline for submissions will be on April 23rd, 11:59 PM PST. Winners will be drawn on April 24th. Good luck! 💛
What would you like to see from us?
We know these past few weeks have been hard and we wanted to bring a tiny bit of cheer. Please let us know how we could make life better for you in the comment section below, we'd love to hear from you.
And again, thank you for coming on this journey with us, and cheers to our ever-growing Art Fam!
Mar and the whole Etchr team.