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On your way to becoming a professional artist, you will be frequently hit with these types of questions. Ready?

• What’s your favorite subject matter?
• What kind of art do you make?
• What sort of paintings do you do?

In the past, you might have said, “Uhhh. . . I paint all kinds of things,” but for a professional artist, that type of response won’t cut it anymore.

You need to call out by name the subject matter (or style) of your art that makes it uniquely yours, so that when people see it they say, “that’s you!”

I am not saying you can only paint one thing for the rest of you life. I am suggesting instead that you take ownership of a particular subject matter that will quickly identify your art to your followers.

Here’s a simple exercise that helped me find my own particular style. Some might call it my artistic “voice.”

Let’s get started!

Step 1. Assemble your artwork

Take several paintings you have done within the past two years. The more paintings you have to review, the easier it will be for you to see a pattern.

Step 2. Make a list

Write down all the types of subject matter you can identify (landscape, floral, figurative, animals, etc) or write down a list of the styles you prefer to create in. Here’s my list:


Step 3. Pick a winner

Tally up the number of paintings you have that fall into each category. Which category has the most tally marks?

According to my own findings, “landscapes with man-made structures” won by a landslide!

Step 4. Turn it into a first-person phrase

What’s a good way to explain my art, in the first person? How about, “I love capturing mankind’s mark upon the landscape.”

That’s my go-to answer when people ask me what I paint.

I hope this helps you find your own artistic voice!

Special thanks to Timothy M. Joe for sharing these tips! For more from him, please visit his website at www.timothymjoe.com.

*Note: this post may contain affiliate links*

One of the best ways to improve your craft is by learning how to critique your own work. No one else knows better than you do what your artistic goals are—both overall, and for each piece.

No one else knows your own short-comings better, either.

Self-crits work best if you develop the habit of assessing every drawing on a regular basis. And they're most productive if you use. . . read more

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