An Artist’s Handwriting

Your handwriting is as unique and distinct as you are.  Regardless of how we were taught to write, we each develop our own style.  Immediately recognizable to those who know us.

An Artist's Handwriting 1
Glorious Beginnings, by Tracey Maras

And like our handwriting, each artist has their own individual style of “writing.”  Whether using a pencil, pen, pastel, or brush, our marks take on a personalized look.  And while we may learn how to vary that look and incorporate different techniques over time, we each retain our own special “handwriting” that makes our work unique and recognizable.

I am known for a light touch.  It may be from my personality of being drawn to details, or my preference for layering pastels to achieve a variety of colors within a particular area, or even my background as an Occupational Therapist, advising against long duration forceful gripping and pinching to avoid conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis.  Or maybe it’s just my “handwriting.”

I can incorporate other types of marks into my paintings.  I selectively place thick opaque applications of pastel to accentuate an area.  I may use dramatic, sweeping brushstroke-type marks, or marks with the qualities of drawing.  Over the years, I have learned to bring to a painting those qualities that make it more engaging and compelling.  But, like handwriting, the “look” is still mine.  Comforting, familiar, recognizable, and uniquely mine.

I often hear from students “I wish I had a light touch like yours.”  While I encourage students to expand their repertoire of mark-making styles to use as tools, I also encourage them to embrace their own personal mark-making style.  It is what makes them unique.  It is who they are.

We can always learn new skills.  But we should always try to remain true to who we are.

A soft pastel painting of a tree during golden hour.

Discovering Reflected Color

When asked to identify the color of a shadow, it is common to respond that it would be a darker color of whatever is in shadow.  A shadow of a tree on green grass would be a darker green.  A shadow of the same tree on dirt would be a darker brown.

Achieving Enlightenment

For a painting to work effectively, it should include a range of values as well as a variety of warm and cool colors. In addition, color harmony will be more successfully achieved when utilizing a limited palette.

A blog from artist, Tracey Maras.

I Don’t Remember It Looking Like That

The sky is filled with the dance of so many colors.  You quickly snap some photos to capture the moment, thinking to yourself about how you are going to create a painting to memorialize this moment.

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When Local Color Isn’t Enough

Sometimes I just don’t want to use what nature gives.  Sometimes I just don’t want to use local color.  Don’t get me wrong.  The world is filled with infinite beauty and inspiration.  But sometimes I just don’t want to paint a blue sky and green leaves.

Confetti Pastels

Do you like surprises?  Do you embrace moments of serendipity and happy accidents?  “Confetti Pastels” can add to your excitement.

How long did it take?

The question that every artist hears at some point is “How long did it take you to paint this?”.  It can be a very complex question to answer.  Is the inquiry to determine the financial value of the piece?  Does the answer somehow determine the quality of the painting?

Inspiration & Transformation

Inspiration can come from anywhere and at any time.  But rarely does our source of inspiration provide us with perfection.

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6 Responses

  1. Tracey makes a good point. We admire other artists who have different styles. That doesn’t mean either style is preferable. Tracey is a wonderful teacher who helps us go in our own direction, by the way. She does not tell anyone to change their style, but she can always provide helpful suggestions on color, composition, even mood.

    1. Denise, thank you so much! My goal in teaching has always been to not make someone paint like me, but to help them become better at whatever level they are at and whatever their style and subject matter. We can all learn and improve by being with others who are using different styles or mediums, addressing varying subject matter, employing alternative approaches, coming from different backgrounds, and working towards different goals. We are all on the same journey, but can take different roads. My goal in teaching is to simply help students navigate around some of the bumps in the road.

  2. Thanks for this article. I paint (pastel) birds, farm animals and some wildlife. Here in the US, I find landscapes are more desired and expected, but I keep going with what moves me. I just love it and don’t intend to change for the sake of selling (although I have sold some – covering my costs – yeah!!!)

    I agree, let’s be who we are!

    1. Lori, congratulations on having sales! My goal was always to at least cover my costs. Then it made it easier for me to justify buying more art materials. Yay! I encourage you to continue to paint whatever subject matter inspires you. I paint just about anything, wildlife, landscapes, portraits. Over the years I have heard that it is best to focus on just one in order to develop a “brand” and be known for one thing. Not only would I find that incredibly boring, but I believe that painting different subjects helps me improve in other subjects. Painting landscapes en plein air improves my awareness of the effects of light and shadow and translates to working in my studio and my wildlife and human portraits. Painting animals improves my drawing skills which translates to better shapes and forms in my landscapes. So do what inspires you. That enthusiasm will be evident in your work. And that is what connects with buyers.

  3. (translated)Wonderful work, wonderful artists! Thank you Unison color for your activity. Thanks to you, I learned a lot of new things in pastel techniques, many artists from all over the world. Study and practice give results; I have had two personal exhibitions, and people order portraits from me. I am learning drawing and painting. Thank you!

    (original)Замечательные работы, замечательные художники! Спасибо Unison colour за вашу деятельность. Благодаря вам я узнала очень много нового в технике пастели, много художников со всего мира. Учёба и практика дают результаты у меня состоялись две персональные выставки, у меня заказывают портреты. Я учусь рисунку и живописи. Спасибо вам!

    1. I agree! I am so thankful to Unison! Not only for making incredible pastels, but for providing opportunities for artists to share their experiences, their work, and their knowledge. It is wonderful to be able to learn and share.

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A soft pastel painting of a tree during golden hour.

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