Choosing a painting subject

A simple spring subject.  Oil on canvas, 11x14

A simple spring subject. Oil on canvas, 11×14

I’ve often been asked how I decide what to paint.  To me, the answer is obvious.  Just as writers are advised to “paint what you know,” so, too, should painters.  What interests you?  Do you have a passion or special message?  For me, just walking out the door will often suggest a subject.  In fact, I once had an exhibit which was solely painted from “my 90 acres,” i.e., everything and everyone was from the home place.  That was a little challenging as I do get out and about, but it was a good exhibit.

This painting that I completed yesterday is a scene just out my studio door.  The dog and some spring bushes.  Pretty simple.  However, if you look back at some of the famous painters of the past century, regional artists or French Impressionists, some of their best work was of ordinary daily scenes.  I don’t live near the ocean or the Rocky Mountains, so my usual subjects are the soft hills here in southern Indiana, small villages, flower gardens, vegetables, my favorite people and places.  Try taking a look around your own home town with new eyes.  You’ll be surprised at subjects which suggest themselves.  Good luck!

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