IDENTIFYING YOUR SUBJECT MATTER
Two just completed and untitled pieces for my upcoming exhibit. Both are mixed media on wood. Both continue my focus on the figure.
The ultimate goal here is to gain momentum so that you can achieve your best results. We get this momentum through energy. And Energy is created by activity. The activity is painting. We tend to engage in the activity of painting more when we are focused on one particular goal. Such as the goal to paint 12 portraits over the next 3 months.
In order to be able to focus, it is best to identify a subject matter that you can stay with long enough to really become involved with it. Even better would be to choose a subject that you are really, really passionate about.
I have worked with the figure for almost 30 years and I still find it fascinating and challenging with infinite possibilities. The same could be said for almost any subject that you were truly passionate about. I am not creating images today that look anything like they did 30 years ago. My style has changed but my subject matter is still the same. You would have thought that I would have gotten it right by now (smile). Oh, I have strayed off the path over the years and tried drawing and painting different subjects, most noticeably roses and wings, with pretty good results I might add. However, I always return to working with the figure. I just can't help it. I used to fight it but not anymore. I know that working with the figure is where my heart, soul and passion exist.
So, because I love to focus on the figure, I paint more, which creates more energy, which builds momentum and ultimately I achieve the results I am looking for.
Many of my new figurative pieces, including the two just completed pieces in the photo above, have been featured in this blog over the past 6 months.
So how do you go about identifying YOUR subject matter? It's as simple as giving it some serious thought and asking yourself some thoughtful questions and answering these questions as honestly as you can. Questions like these:
What have you painted in the past that got your juices flowing, that you loved painting and that you couldn't wait to work on each and every day?
What subjects do you keep coming back to even as you venture out to explore others?
Look at your past work. Which subjects do you think you painted better than others? Which of your paintings have more life to them?
When you go to galleries or museums, what kinds of subject matter are you attracted to?
Who are your favorite artists and what do they paint?
What objects or subjects would you really like to get to know better through painting?
Does working with a particular subject matter tend to generate more ideas while you are painting it?
When you finish painting a particular subject (say birds for example) do you say to yourself:
"On this next bird painting, I am going to try…" or
"I have an idea for a different way to depict a bird." or
"I feel as if I can do even better with this next bird painting."
If your answers to most or all of these questions lead you to the same subject matter then you have your answer as to what you should be devoting your precious creative time painting. You will have YOUR subject matter.