Choosing a Subject to Paint

Painting From Life

When painting from life we are sometimes beset with a trying experience. That is choosing a subject to paint.  We artists are always looking for a particular subject that we can turn into a most wonderful painting. However, instead of trying to paint objects, why don’t you look around for the forms and shapes that lie before you. and think in terms of light and shadow.

When choosing a subject to paint try to think of how the shapes and forms relate to each other to create a design. One might consider the flow of the land.  And how about some interesting or unusual structure. Don’t forget about animals and people. These can help to tell a story.

We do not always have to be painting vast vistas. Sometimes in choosing a subject to paint we might find something in our own back yard. Maybe a garden plot, or some interesting bushes, a fence with a gate, maybe a wheelbarrow with some garden tools. Oh, I know I’m talking objects but, consider how they might be placed or arranged to make an interesting composition.

Here is an example of a painting showing some farm equipment and a round bale covered with white plastic.  I started this painting plein-air and finished it in the studio.

Learn to see and absorb what you see. If you are willing to do this, you will gradually start to see more and more. Subsequently, you will be quicker with your ability to put it onto the canvas, painting with more spontaneity and daring.

Drawing And Sketching Helps

As a matter of fact I sometimes go out with just pad and pencil. I enjoy being out in nature feasting my eyes on what God has created. And, I find the experience to be a relaxing adventure. With just these simple tools one can be more spontaneous. You can use your drawing and sketching energies to formulated the composition.

The same can be said for painting from a photo or printed picture. Just because you may be painting in the studio, do not give up these basic ideals.

Considering a Still Life?

There are many things inside your home you might paint. You might consider painting an old shoe or boot, a chair and table, maybe even part of a room. You can set up a still life using found objects. They should however, relate to one another. How about food items?  Just look around, I’m sure you will find something.

Remember this: Just because someone else painted a particular scene or object, doesn’t mean you can’t. A particular subject can be painted a thousand times by a thousand different artists, and yet each one will be different.

Painting From Your Head

If you are creating a painting from your head then, subject matter can be most anything that comes to mind. In the studio you are free to do just about anything you want. You can even combine several images to arrive at a pleasing design or composition. Remember; you are the master here!

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