Three Reasons To Paint What You Love
Three Reasons why painting what you love and sticking with it is so important
When you connect to a subject there's something special that happens. The excitement and energy in the studio rockets north and life is good. But often artists abandon these subjects after a short time for whatever reason(s). Mostly it because they don't achieve the results they want right away. The problem here isn't the subject matter it's the artist. The painter hasn't found their way with the subject and simply does not understand how to use their medium to express it.
But the disappointment is a deal breaker so they quit only to begin a new search for what to paint next.
Here is why you should stick with it
- You become familiar with it
- It will help you develop your style
- Go to it when all else fails
Let's have a look at each reason so you can better understand how this will help your artwork.
You become familiar with it
Becoming familiar with a subject takes time - not just a painting, or two. Once you become familiar with it you can start to develop the subject my infusing your style, or own twist on it. Again, this doesn't come in the beginning so you need to experiment as much a possible to make a subject your own. You can do this by using a variety of brushwork, mediums and being creative.
It will help you develop your style
This is a biggie! As you experiment with a variety of methods and styles your subject starts to mature. There's a comfort level that you have now with the subject and it starts to fit like your favorite pair of jeans. And if you are an expressive artist, or desire to be one, you can start to add all the lovely abstract qualities. Why do these abstract qualities appear? Because you learn what features you need to include and what you can omit. You learn to exploit the features and details of the subject and interpret them in your own special style. Good times...
Go to it when all else fails
A few bad studio days in a row and thoughts of never creating beautiful art again start to trickle into the head. That's when you need a go-to subject. Something you are so familiar with that you could paint it with your eyes closed. This will get your confidence and attitude back where it belongs.
Case study - my cow art over time
Cows! That's my go-to subject and one I love to paint. Let's take a stroll down memory lane (could have easily said moo-mory lane but I'll keep it professional).
The Beginning - 2008
Below are a few images of my very first cow paintings created in 2008. I knew right away this was a subject that intrigued me although I have to admit the art is struggling. I had no connection to them yet and it shows in the work.
Developmental Stage - 2009
The easiest thing to do early on would have been to give up. But I enjoyed painting them and continued to explore the subject. The images below illustrate a few pieces that were created about a year after I painted my first cows. As I look at them now I can see signs of familiarity with the subject. They're becoming more interesting all the while my art is strengthening as well thanks to sticking with it.
Maturity Stage - 2010
It's a few years in now and the cows are taking shape. Notice that my style is taking the lead. This is a key turning point in the subject because how I interpret them has become the focus. I'm starting to have some fun as I explore more techniques and methods to express the subject. Most artists never get to this point with their subjects since they drift away early in the development period.
Exploiting The Subject - 2012...
As my style changes over the years so do the cows. I attribute this change in style to the cows as well since they helped me with my medium and confidence over the years. I can honestly say that my art and style would not be what it is if it were not for cows. That's a big deal in my book and something that every one of you reading this post need to think about.
By finding a subject I love and sticking with it I create a style and confidence level that allows me to mature as an artist. It's a win-win situation. I know this about subject matter now and continue building on it by adding other go-to subjects. For example, portraits intrigue me this way. Are they there yet? Like my cows? No way. Not even close but I'm well own my way in the developmental stages and can see a progression in them as I'm a few years in.
What about you?
Do you abandon your subjects too early? Do you stick with them long enough that they become familiar? Does this familiarity allow you to develop your style? Has your style become the lead in your subjects, or do your subjects dominate the art?
I encourage you to find that subject(s) and stick with it. Not for a month but for years. Allow it to become so familiar that you can relax and concentrate on the interpretational aspects of painting. This is where you start to grow as a painter and your subjects and style become more mature, distinct and natural.