|one trick pony : god mode|
We've all encountered people's work we can immediately tell apart from others and there are some things that make or break it for each f us.
It's usually harder to give a proper definition of what we do unless we have a very strong vision and the means to translate it in a tangible form (and that requires talent AND skill I think).
Why would I think about all that ? Well I do see people with a strong identity in their painting and I've been told now and then I do have a "style" some can easily identify (although I've also been mistaken for my friend Jon).
We might also have self imposed special rules like the number of colours (while others will go full Desigual
I guess it depends, I suppose both extremes could exist, with a control freak trying to define his/her own style as precisely as possible and of course a person not caring a bit being immediately recognisable but I believe those are rare.
I reckon it's a partly inconscious and conscious thing, why we love the colour we love isn't something you can explain easily without having to go deep. The techniques we're the most confident in come from our painting history, what we've painted before and what we've worked to improve.
On the other hand, we sometimes want to emulate a certain style of vibe and hence try to copy the "codes" to make a reference or echo to some other piece.
Then of course we might also be influenced to the point of mimetism...
Now I said the word now didn't I ? Colour theory. That's interesting.
The colour wheel is a very powerful and clever construction :
And I won't even get into spectral colours and non spectral colours or colour perception here... ^^
It's a common practice for painters to select their palette according to the colour wheel to get the right contrasts and complements between colours, thus influencing the colours we use.
Just like the chromatic scale isn't the only way to define music, there are several colour theories and I've always found Wassily Kandisky's colour theory to be fascinating by giving each colour "properties" and inner movement. It changes the colour grammar a fair bit and I have to say I quite like that and find myself thinking in similar terms.
I believe it does explain to an extent why I use red as much as I do, it does add that "power" and depth I want. It somehow enriches the composition.
My point here is that the colour theory we relate to does affect our choices and hence style.
|Latest example from Ana's blog|
But skill is mostly just that : being good at what you spent time and energy (and sometimes money) on. The skills we get depend on what we worked on, what we wanted to achieve or what we thought was the most cost effective.
In this regard, skill does say a bit about who we are as the level we reach in any given technique will tell about our nature.
|Stormcast by Flameon|
It all falls down to what we wan't to achieve and what we're ready to do to make it happen.
Like I said, I've been painting for 27 years now and my level is... I don't know, more than tabletop worthy I guess but not much more either and in no way worthy nor meant for display. It's the compromise I've found to enjoy though, which lets me paint enough models to a standard I'm OK with.
I know I could paint way better than I do by not taking shortcuts and spending more time but this is my happy place. Now of course this is just a hobby to me, so staying in my comfort zone isn't exactly an issue as long as I keep enjoying it. I do progress over time and this very blog does show some of it.
I do like to use certain opportunities to do things differently though, every once in a while I'll challenge myself and because it's usually in a pressure free context, I always enjoy and learn a lot from these occasions.
I haven't changed my painting techniques much over the years, I'm still pretty much that "base coat/shade/highlights" guy with just added fancy stuff. I do thin my paints considerably more than I used to, I do use drybrushing less than I used to, I blend, glaze and try to add fancy (although shy) attempts at things like OSL or NMM and I blackline a lot but that's it. Every now and then I'll limit myself with brushes, colours or instead of working from dark to bright I'll work the other way.
Maybe I'll want something radically different in the future, I don't know, but for now, I'll follow the mood.
And that right here is I think one very important part of what defines a style (or mine at least). I keep using the same techniques, the same colour sequences, processes I've aquired by trying that I then replicate and that replication does give a signature or an identity. It's not deliberate, maybe more of a consequence I believe.
Rules/tasteNow this part is fun, it's the purely arbitrary side of painting. There are things we like and things we don't. There's no real explanation of those possible. We just "feel" it.
Some people will have a very loose appreciation of what "works" while others will have a very precise and firm idea of what is right to them.
I'm the second kind, definitely.
Thinking about this whole "style" thing, I've tried to see the patterns and logic behind this all and here are some of the points I've noticed :
- I try as much as I can to avoid having mpore than 2 main colours (there are exceptions)
- I almost never use pure white or pure black raw (apart from base rims) for anyting else than extreme highlights for white and black lining.
- The only colour I almost never desaturate is red
- I highlight most colours with some form of light grey or off white (thus desaturating most colours)
- Areas adjacent to one another HAVE to oppose one way or another (cold/warm, saturated/desaturated or complementary colours) and if possible in more ways than one.
This is why I use greys (all shades) and off white so much. It provides me a way to differentiate zones and to avoid clashes on adjacent zones.
The nomads below are a good example of that. I have three "bright" colours (quite rare for me) and a greysish brown to seperate them.
Just think about it for a second, we all have some, adding checkers wherever you can, painting the eyes, gems or who knows what part the same exact way ALL THE TIME because it would feel wrong not to... It can be a basing fetish, a bit of a kit you've used on countless models, using models from a given period or range exclusively.
One good example I believe is John Blanche himself, the man has varied in his way to create over the decades, just look at what he was doing in the seventies and now but you will keep seing patterns, symbols he uses like poets use words or musicians notes, so yes the ogryn faces, checkerboard patterns, Mona Lisas and elements from other painters are often used but you cannot sum up the whole work with just those. However, people trying to emulate the style (and I have done this myself) will use those to channel some of the master's art into their own.
So here you are, I don't think one thing specifically defines style and I do believe it's part conscious and part unconscious (in different ratios from one painter to another) and I only have clues as to what defines minebut it's fun seeing the balance evolve as you gain experience, grow old (and maybe lazy) and explore new grounds.