Through Concentrated Breath

making images from memory

Copying Your Own Style from Memory

11 September 2014 by Rey Armenteros

What is style and how do you aproach it? I wrestled with this question many years as an artist, without ever reaching an answer, though I went through countless permutations of what I gathered were different styles. As my memory holds it, the first time I consciously sought a stylized approach, I had been working in pen and ink for two years. I was in high school, taking fine art and commercial art classes, and I was getting tired of the crosshatching that we students expected with a pen. In manipulating the pen in different ways, I discovered a way of filling the pen with excess ink, and this gave a wet line that beeded on the paper surface. It was best when the ink was somewhat old in the bottle and in the process of coagulating. Instead of the scratchy feel, these lines glided and felt slippery, almost greasy. And the shading I pursued was a globby scribble, something you’d see in a woodcut though far more contrived and rough. Previous attempts at following a style were nothing more than aping a favorite artist, but this felt like I arrived at it on my own. After pursuing it for no more than several months, I went on to other styles, but this one influenced my idea of authorship over the look of a drawing – what I interpreted as your own personal style.

A couple of months ago, I was thinking about those old images, and I tried to emulate the style with a brush and some paint. In a similar way, I saturated the brush with paint that had the consistency of thick ink and developed the shiny lines I remembered from back in the day. There I was trying to form the memory of an image I had come up with all those years ago. Afterward, I compared the results with one of these old drawings from high school. You can compare the new painting with the original drawing below.

High School Pen & Ink Drawing

High School Pen & Ink Drawing

Recent Painting Copying that Old Style

Recent Painting Copying that Old Style

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