Finding Artistic Ideas & Style

It all begins right here.  A quickly scratched sketch on any random piece of paper; it could be a bit of lined notepaper, a napkin, or even a receipt but almost all my ideas start like this.  I have hundreds of these bits of paper everywhere in my house and I never let them out of my hand to a client.  I made that mistake once and my little scratching ended up being the project of someone else.  Ah, live and learn.  

Each commissioned painting has one of these bits of paper and sometimes, the painting looks nothing like the first drawing but other times, it's a perfect match.  Lately, I've been working on my woodland creatures.  I have been trying to give some human attributes and even human accessories to some.  It's a lot of fun.  I won't lie, my inspiration came from favorite childhood books, the story was never nearly as important as the artwork.  My favorite artists always included animals with human attributes in their illustrations.  I adored the works of  Beatrix Potter, Racey Helps, and Jerry Pinkney, whoever illustrated my particular childhood copy of Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics, and of course, everything Disney.  However, I never wanted to copy their work but I always wanted to create characters with a style that was all my own.  I won't lie, you can still see the influence.
My biggest influence is often the client.  I love the process of meeting with someone who wants to commission a painting; listening to them while holding pencil in hand.  I listen and I sketch.  Most have an idea of what they want but everyone has a story.  There is a reason why they want a bit of art and they almost always tell me a story.  Some stories revolve around how they want that piece of art to make the space feel but more often, it's art for someone else and how they want to make them feel.  I take that info and I create, and that is easy.

What's so difficult about finding a style?  When I'm not listening to someone's requests, their story, or have a goal and I'm staring at a blank canvas with free reign; it's not so easy to come up with an idea much less a style.  I rarely know where to start when I don't have someone else leading the way.  It takes awhile to come up with what I want to paint and until that idea comes, a style will not emerge. I'm working on my storybook style, so coming up with ideas are easy.  So, maybe all this time I've been doing it backwards; I should have been working on my style because after I decided on the style, the ideas came much more easily.    

I've started to go back to the beginning.  I've noticed that those bits of papers that are everywhere and I've realized that they don't all belong to clients.  I have quite a few of my own.  My ideas that I have jotted down when I wasn't avidly seeking the ideas.  They are right there in front of me and come stress free.  Time to grab them and get busy.

Easy as A - B - C.