What shall I paint?

How do you decide what makes a good subject for a painting? You can rely on tried and tested themes, the timeless repertoire that historically makes good pictures: the bowl of fruit, the vase of flowers, the nude or classic postcard view.

But what about other ideas?

Much around us, the details and small corners, the events that move us emotionally – these too are visually interesting, but not always immediately obvious to us as inspirational subjects for paintings.

Learning to see, learning to feel ‘… the artist has only to trust his eyes.’ Rodin

Most people probably accept there is nothing the artist cannot paint, but, even knowing this, still find it difficult to pick out from the view in front of them the inspiration for a good painting.

One of my favorite Watercolor Artists Mary Whyte teaching her students that they have to identify what they are feeling in order to paint, that the quality of their production is not primarily about technique or copying.

As artists, we paint from our hearts as well as our heads.

As Mary saying: “Painting is not just about matching a tube of paint to the object. They should be recording what the summer sky feels like, or with a cuff of lace, what really matters is how it momentarily gathers and falls around the sitter’s delicate pale wrist, its lithe stillness matching hers. And that, in a moment, the sitter and her lace cuff will rise from the chair and, like a fleeting cloud, disappear.”

Truly learning to paint then becomes, in large part, a matter of learning how to see. This means we must become masters at observing and feeling the world around us before we can begin to express it on an easel.

It also becomes a matter of knowing ourselves.

Everything that we paint is in some way who we are.

Each of us is given the same set of colors with which to compose our lives, certain themes continually creep into our work.

With time, our creations become less like those of another’s.

It doesn’t matter in painting if there is no real life. The only reality is the painting itself!

No thing by itself is beautiful. All things change their appearance according to our point of view.

Objects are beautiful, or not, depending on our response to them. Just as a falling tree in the woods needs someone to hear it in order for it to make a sound, a vision needs reaction in order for it to be noteworthy.

Our true aim as artists should be to nurture the sensitive quality and appreciative imagination that we once had as children. As we grow up, society suppresses much of creativity as fanciful or wasteful. We spend most of our lives attempting to act like mature adults, and then wonder why our lives seem empty. Where did all the fun go?

When we are truly engaged in the experience of living and are not concerned with worldly expectations, the fruit of an artistic expression is inevitable.

It will happen in spite of ourselves.

Trust your feelings and emotions!

I’m wishing you to discover your personal journey and invite you to visit my Etsy gallery https://etsy.com/shop/AnnaGArte

Further advisable reading – “An Artist’s Way of Seeing” book by Mary Whyte

Be an Amateur!

“That’s all any of us are: amateurs. We don’t live long enough to be anything else.”

– Charlie Chaplin

We’re all terrified of being revealed as amateurs, but in fact, today it is the amateur—the enthusiast who pursues her work in the spirit of love (in French, the word means “lover”), regardless of the potential for fame, money, or career—who often has the advantage over the professional.

Because they have little to lose, amateurs are willing to try anything and share the results. They take chances, experiment, and follow their whims. Sometimes, in the process of doing things in an unprofessional way, they make new discoveries.

“In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities,” said Zen monk Shunryu Suzuki. “In the expert’s mind, there are few.”

Amateurs are not afraid to make mistakes or look ridiculous in public. They’re in love, so they don’t hesitate to do work that others think of as silly or just plain stupid.

The real gap is between doing nothing and doing something. Amateurs know that contributing something is better than contributing nothing.

Inspired by “Show your Work!” Book by Austin Kleon

Interesting Dry Brush Details on John Singer Sargent’s Watercolors

John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) worked in watercolor throughout his career, but it wasn’t until he was in his forties, already famous painter, that his interests in the medium accelerated.

Exploring here the use of Dry Brush technique to express almost any subject on paper.

The term dry brush is actually a misnomer, as the paint on the brush is really damp.

With dry brush you use just a small amount of paint on the brush, working on dry or damp textured paper and dragging the brush across it to create broken areas of color or interesting textural brushstrokes.

By holding the handle low so that it is almost parallel to the paper, you will achieve the best results.

The technique is especially good for painting things like the bark of a tree, a course beard, hair, water and so on….

Here some great examples from Sargent’s masterful watercolors.

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Venice: Under the Rialto Bridge – 1909 / Water
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Simplon Pass: Avalanche Track – about 1909-11/ rock retails
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Bedouins – 1905-6 / head scarves (kaffiyeh)
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The Garden Wall – 1910 / The texture of the wall
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The Garden Wall – 1910 / Textured description
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Simplon Pass: the tease – about 1911 / the lawn’s suggestion
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Simplon Pass: the green parasol – about 1911
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Fabric details
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Greenery details

Artistic Inspiration – Mary Whyte

There is no “right” technique or style to painting people. The way I paint is only One way.

With earnest effort and hard work, you will find Your way.

Painting Portraits is a special breed of art. It requires sound drawing skills and general understanding of human anatomy and how it works.

Nonetheless, it is not enough to be a portrait painter. First and Foremost you must be an Artist, a maker of images that appeal to the Senses.

– Mary Whyte