Your Signature Style ~ Would You Take a Risk to Find IT?

So I gave a painting demonstration for my retreat guests in Tuscany last fall called, “Your Signature Style.” Little did I know that it would have a dramatic impact on my own paintings!

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You have probably heard talk about an artist’s style. Being able to recognize an artist’s style of painting, sculpting, making pottery, photography, writing, music or dance ~ we identify artists and follow their work.

Some years ago, I think it was ’06, or ’07 ~ I went from showing very richly jewel toned paintings in my fall shows, to a softer pastel toned palette the following spring.

The response startled me.

“Is this your first time exhibiting in this show?”

“I liked your other paintings better.”

“You were brave to change your style so,” commented the show director.

“Really?”

I hadn’t even considered it a risk? Is it a risk to try a new color? Is it a risk to change mediums? Is it a risk to try painting ~ if you’ve NEVER done it before?

So what IS an artist’s style?

Is it really about color? What makes a style of expression ~ in any medium? And how does one get there?

I believe it’s really about letting who you REALLY are out there in the art!  That is the point of doing it in the first place?  I really wanted my retreat guests to get this critical part. Even though many had never painted before ~ I wanted them to feel the ‘WOW!’

Painting Demonstration:

Discovering Passion

In Tuscany ~ I began my painting demonstration by asking each person to sign their name on a page in their sketchbook. “Just do it.”

signature style
signature style watercolor and pencil, 6″ x 9″

Then I picked up a watercolor brush, loaded it with paint, looked out the window at a misty, rainy landscape. One middle ground tree caught my eye, nothing special, just a place to start my brush.

I put the brush down on my small piece of watercolor paper and made like I was signing my name. No thinking, just do it.

Without thinking, I grabbed a pencil and drew back into the wet paint.

Assignment

Capturing Essence

Try capturing the essence. Move quickly. Scribble, don’t edit. Just do it. Something. Stop when the flow stops. Don’t work over top of the initial flow.

signature style watercolor
Memory painting, watercolor, 9″ x 12″

I challenged them to paint from the memory of the Tuscan dinner party we’d all enjoyed the previous night. I made a quick stab at it to demonstrate.

Itching to try it themselves, my audience didn’t ask questions. They milled around my easel briefly and disappeared to get their own paint.

In the Studio

A Bigger Brush

Later in the day I was alone in my own flat. Looking at my memory painting of the dinner party, I wished it had more warmth. My feelings about the party were not as skiddish and austere as my brush strokes looked on the page.

The pause between my initial flow and this second flow is important. Not to collapse the conversation with the Creator, and the critic in your head. After time to consider both, I set a specific request of the Creator for more warmth, vibrato.

I loaded up a wider brush and laid down several brush loads of watery oranges. Focusing on how it feels to sign my name ~ thoughtless ~ I worked rapidly, adding lines, dots of deep color, and hot pink and red. Again ~ I stopped when the flow stopped. Sign your name and STOP!

Share Your Thoughts

Wow!

I wasn’t at all excited about my first painting in Tuscany. Rain ~ plus the fact that TSA had held my luggage in the U.S., meant I had only watercolors and a tiny sketchbook on my first day.

In hind sight, the little sketch makes a dramatic contrast to the ‘wow’ in my sketchbook a week later.

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“I want you to feel the wow,” I urged one guest to put away the step by step instruction book she had tucked beneath her sketchbook.

If you’re not excited about your painting, no one else will be either. And why are you painting in the first place ~ if not to feel that wonderful creative jolt of wow energy flowing through you???

The same applies to writing, music, dance, photography, any creative medium. How about a dinner that makes you stop and taste, wow! Wouldn’t you want the recipe?

Are you painting to have the same ifs, and, and buts from real life hanging you up? I was ~ but I’m not now!

How many ‘WOWs’ can you get on one painting? Did you try the assignment? What medium did you use? What memory did you draw your inspiration from?  Leave your comments below.

What’s Next

More WOWs

Check out the articles below for more inspiration.

And by all means, don’t be stingy ~ share with someone you know who would be inspired too!

Big Expressive Dream

Big Expressive Alla Prima Painting ~ Girls Dream Weekend

Girls Dream Weekend for 2

January 26, 27 & 28

Big Expressive Alla Prima Painting

Your Signature Style ~ Two for the price of one!
3-Day Expressive Painting Weekend

What is a signature style? And what difference would it make if you were clear about yours? That’s the question I asked myself ~ and it changed my world.

Impacting not only my art, but life itself.  We’ll start with your signature and discover your inner creative voice ~ and what makes yours unique to you.

This special weekend is for TWO women only. Your choice of media; watercolor, oils, pastels, charcoal, mixed media. $500/2 persons

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Ever wish to swing a big brush or palette knife? Capture your own heart and soul on a great big canvas?

It’s an exhilarating feeling!

This special Girls Dream Weekend is especially designed to grant that wish!

Come to my great big sunroom studio by the pond and paint with me for three days!

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You and a girlfriend are invited to use my easels, palette, and bring your own choice of oil or acrylic paint, large brushes, palette knives, and canvas. Or purchase unstretched canvas off my roll of primed canvas and clip it to one of the big studio painting boards.

This Big Painting Retreat is designed for a VERY Small Group. Only two!

And this EXTRAORDINARY weekend ~ YOU AND YOUR FRIEND are the Price of One!

Regular $500/person

This Weekend 2 for $500


First to Apply Gets it!
January 26, 27 & 28

PAY NOW

Itinerary
  • DAY 1 Jan 26
  • Check In Noon – 1:00 pm
  • Afternoon Demonstration 1:00 – 3:00 pm
  • 3:00 – 5:00 Tea & Free Time
  • 6:00  Dinner with Dorothy at a local restaurant
  • 8:00 pm Free Time
  • DAY 2 Jan 27
  • Continental Breakfast 8:00 am
  • Morning Art Session 9:00 – 11:00 am
  • Lunch on your own in the village Noon – 2:00
  • Afternoon Studio session 2:00 – 5:00 pm Paint with Dorothy
  • 6:00  Dinner on your own at a local restaurant
  • 8:00 pm Free Time
  • DAY 3 Jan 28
  • Continental Breakfast 8:00 am
  • Morning Art Session 9:00 – 11:00 am
  • Check Out 11:00

Big Expressive Alla Prima Painting Girls Dream Weekend

Jan 26, 27, 28, 2018


PAY NOW

Heart of Tuscany ~ Maremma Region of Tuscany

The Heart of Tuscany

Connecting Heart and Mind promotes creativity. This important connection is essential if creative energy is to flow smoothly. Experiential learning provides a quick way to reclaim forgotten creativity.

This year’s Tuscany Retreat focuses on the heart of Tuscany. Known as the Maremma region, this heart shaped area connects miles of rocky coastline and beautiful beaches with the mountains.

Heart of Tuscany ~ Maremma Region of Tuscany

The Heart of Tuscany ~ Maremma
The Heart of Tuscany ~ Maremma

Walking in the past ~ Civilizations dating back from the Bronze, Neolithic, and Copper Age, followed by Etruscan and Roman make this region the heart and soul of Tuscany.

Check out the sites on my interactive map to discover more about the heart and soul of Tuscany.

Download Tuscany Retreat Brochure>

Thermal Baths at Saturnia

Going with the Flow?

Entice your Creative Spirit. Jump into the CreativSOUP and relax. Let the flow go around you. What a powerful way of looking at the world!

Ancient hot springs still flow from the earth at Saturnia, and are open free of charge. Bring your bathing suit, water shoes, and a towel!

Learn more about the thermal spas>

Download Tuscany Retreat Brochure>

Maremma National Park

Connecting with the Landscape

This important connection with earth grounds creative energy, enabling it to flow. Without it, the creative circuit shorts out. Energy is lost, drained out. A walk, bike ride, horseback ride, boating, swimming, touching nature in whatever way that appeals most ~ will automatically reconnect.

Maremma National Park has 14 hiking trails, some for master hikers, some novice. Panoramic views stretch from the park mountains, along the coastline to the Monte Argentario peninsula and out over the sea toward the isles of Giglio, Montecristo and Elba. Hike to Medici look-out towers or the ruins of a medieval monastery. No hiking shoes? Try the cycling path!

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Download Tuscany Retreat Brochure>

Canoeing
Canoes leave from the “La Barca” near Alberese, a section of the river where—until forty years ago—there was a ferry. The banks are initially covered in thick vegetation though it thins out slowly as you head toward to the San Mamiliano farm. Near Spolverino are the remains of an ancient Roman bridge, called “the devil’s bridge.” Once you arrive at Torre Trappola, about 3km from the sea, the river widens and you can see local trees including willows, poplars and tamarisks.
Horseback riding
Horseback riding excursions are another fun way to get to know the park and spend time in contact with nature. There are a variety of possibilities for everyone from beginners to experts throughout the protected area. During the rides it is easy to run into local wildlife like deer, wild boar, cows and maremmani horses.
The “Romitorio” itinerary, about two hours long, is a relaxed ride through a forest of oaks and it is appropriate for beginners. If you have more time, take the three hour itinerary to the Abbey of San Rabano. Experienced riders can take the full day (six hour) ride which moves through a variety of the park’s environments.
Expert riders can also learn about the local cowboy activities. Information and reservations can be made through the office of the Alberese farm (+39 0564 407 180).
Mountain biking

Leave your car in town, and take a relaxing ride along the road that leads to Marina di Alberese. Along the way you’ll pass the breeding area where you can see cattle and horses grazing in the large fields along the sides of the road.

When you arrive at the intersection about 500m from the seaside you can turn right, following the directions for the A7 itinerary which leads to Ombrone. On the return take the main road to the beach. You can also take a longer itinerary which departs from Alberese, through the countryside to the southern extreme of the park and the town of Talamone. If you don’t have your own bike you can rent one from Il Rialto. More info>

Capalbio

Jim and I visited Capalbio for the first time last year. Watercolor journal in my satchel, we sat in the village and made several sketches.

capalbio watercolor painting
flowers flowing from windows and balconies
capalbio watercolor paintings
flowers flowing prolifically from windows and balconies

I sat just below the wall in this video to make these watercolor sketches in my journal. There was a park bench where Jim and I sat in the small piazza. The village was quiet and we had the piazza to ourselves! From the top of the wall ~ a spectacular view of the sun setting over the sea.

Download Tuscany Retreat Brochure>

The Tarot Garden

A hint of Niki de Saint Phalle’s sculpture garden stands at the entrance of the walled city. Jim and I sat beside the towering beauty and ate our gelatos!

sculpture
Niki de Saint Phalle’s sculpture at Capabilo

There is far more about Niki de Saint Phalle. Learn more>

Archaeology

I’ve always had a fascination with ancient civilizations. The Etruscans in particular ~ since making small red terra cotta replicas of Etruscan black painted vessels in high school! The opportunity to walk among the ruins, to feel the place, the earth, ~ well, I think I’ll take the watercolor journal and see what emerges.

Magic of the Maremma

For more information about this year’s Tuscany Creativity Retreat, Download Tuscany Retreat Brochure>