What Does It Mean to Express Yourself Through Painting?

One of our members asked, "What does it mean to express yourself through painting and how do we figure out what we want to express?"

If you’ve ever taken a “Sip and Paint” class (or my version which I call “Coffee and Canvas”) you have seen how each person in the class creates a different painting even though everyone starts with the same picture. It's amazing. I'm teaching everybody the exact same technique but each of our paintings looks different. Part of who you are gets expressed in your painting from day one, no matter who you are or what your experience is. Your experience level, your person, and your personality are present from the beginning.

One of our friends has a really distinct style. She paints little pixelated dots and I don't know where that came from. I don't know if it was something she intentionally thought about doing or if it's her personality coming out in that technique. You discover your unique style over time as you practice painting and sometimes it can take a long time. But when you start discovering your own unique style you can start expressing yourself in different ways with that style.

One of the ways you can express yourself is through your use of color or lack of color. There are a lot of painters who paint really subdued colors and their work is very realistic. I think that's directly related to their personality, what they see in the world, and what they want to express.

I am someone who likes to use a lot of color. I also like to paint quite loose, not refining my paintings too much.  This is a reflection of my personality and it's how I like to paint. I painted like that from the very beginning and it's become more appealing to me as time goes by. I don't want to paint small details in a tight way.

But a full expression of yourself might also relate to what subject matter you’re painting. My mom loves children and she loves to paint children, especially her grandchildren! My dad is 80 years old and loves to paint old barns, buildings, boats, tools, logs and anything else that tells a story from the past. This is one way that they express who they are through their art.

I can't tell any artist how they will find their own expression, but I do believe each artist will find it. As you paint more and more you will discover your own style and means of expression. Just keep painting!

Jed Dorsey

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