Style & The Plan

Your Artistic Style and Purpose Determines the Plan


Creative Style is usually broken down into two types, Representational or Figurative and Abstract.  As with most categories, they have been broken down into an unlimited number of styles within each type.  Subjects for later studies. 

 Representational or figurative art is when the artist creates something that is easily recognized by the viewer – a tree looks pretty much like a tree.


Abstract art is when the artist creates something that is a distorted representation or abstraction of an inspiration.  Pablo Picasso successfully combined the two in his famous paintings of an abstracted female figure with a lifelike eye. 

 Linear or Painterly Once you decided whether your creations will be either representational or abstract, you will also need to decide whether you will create in a Linear or Painterly style.  A linear style has well defined lines within which the image is created with well developed detail.  A painterly style is outside the lines with lost edges and blurred definition. 

The Impressionist painters are a great example of Painterly Painters and the Cubists are obviously great examples of Linear Painters.  Some of the Great Masters used both methods in their work, painting the focus of the composition in a linear fashion while painting the backgrounds slightly out of focus and more painterly,  bringing the viewer’s attention to the focal point – a great tool to keep in mind.   Both representational and abstract styles can support either linear or painterly methods. 

The Plan

The Plan must be developed to achieve the desired results for expressing our inspiration.  Start with what  might be required, a specific theme, dimensions and construction parameters for entering a show or exhibit, consider the absolutes of a commissioned piece.  Consider deadlines when determining the complexity of a project.   There is no point in planning a piece featuring butterflies when the theme is urban structures or a wall size piece for a venue that will only support  2′ x 3′.

Make thumbnail sketches to brainstorm shapes and design elements including focal point placement and negative space.  Sometimes the right arrangement will just jump out at you – sometimes you need to walk away for a while and view the options with a fresh eye.  Even then, sometimes nothing looks quite right.  Start again from a different point of view.  Turn the sketches up side down to check balance and the strength of design.  Remove or add elements to make the design and balance pleasing.

Audition colors and values– do you want to use realistic or fanciful color, clear or toned,  high or low intensity.  Some of the most successful compositions utilize combinations like low intensity with a splash of high intensity color for accent or sparkle.  Refer to your color wheel to determine a color’s compliment which will add automatic sparkle when placed beside one another.  Be adventurous, you’re only auditioning – try something out of your comfort zone or a little radical.

Finally, evaluate your design and color choices keeping in mind any limitations  of your chosen medium.  Mixing the perfect color with paint and dye is far easier than finding the perfect color of fabric and thread, unless of course, you dye them.

Trust your instincts!


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