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