Advice that’s frequently dispensed to people in creative fields goes something like this. “If you want to be successful, then develop a unique, marketable style. Know what buyers want. Then, go forth and create paintings people will like and buy.”
This may actually be poor advice.
People like paintings of dogs and cats and of kids playing near or in water. This is a good market niche. That doesn’t mean we should start churning out paintings of dogs or cats or kids at the beach in the hope of reaching the market. In fact, artists risk being cliché if they do. I know a woman who paints delightful cows and pigs and, occasionally, sheep. Her paintings sell well, because she has developed technical skills and because she has also developed her talent for seeing and capturing each animal’s special essence. She loves her farm-yard animals and that love shows in her work.
The point I want to make is not that painting any of these “marketable” subjects is wrong. It’s not. But painting simply because there’s a market for certain subjects is poor advice that often results in cliché paintings.
There is a lot of good advice for artists (and writers), too.
Connecting with other artists by studying their works (maybe even copying their style for a while) for the sake of arriving at one’s personal truth is good advice. Creativity coach Eric Maisel says that this kind of connecting “extends tradition” and is a good way to arrive at a personal style.
I love to paint landscapes with oils, frequently in plein air, as do thousands of other painters. I’m not sure my “style” will ever appear. I’m also not sure that it won’t.