Seeking the Subject

Nature provides a constant source of creative inspiration to all of us. But to capture its spiritual essence, one must first discover one's own emotional connection to the subject. It's that special "something" that grows out of each artist's personal involvement with his/her subject matter. Your philosophy will undoubtedly differ from mine and other artists, as well as the way of seeing and expressing your relationship to your subjects.
Vineyard Radiance II by Robert Reynolds.

Each of us is different and as artists we perceive our subjects in our own way; and that is a good thing. Subjects that hold no meaning to the individual can all too easily become little more than exercises in picture making; something that conveys little feeling or sincerity and shows no commitment.

Any subject, be it human, rocks, trees, still life or what have you, can be symbolic of something larger than it's self.  When painting subjects with a definite meaning or relationship to my own life, I see a richness and emotional dimension in my painting that otherwise might not be there. The old saying is still relevant: "Paint what you know."

Ideally, as artists, we should strive to infuse the literal reality of what we see with perhaps a far richer reality of what we feel. The quest for originality when figuring out how to paint begins with personal, insightful components that aids us when embracing and interpreting our chosen subject. Does that resonate with you? Leave a comment and let me know what chosen subject calls to you.



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The Artist's Life Blog
Robert Reynolds

About Robert Reynolds

The paintings of San Luis Obispo native, Robert Reynolds, are in art collections throughout the United States and abroad. Images of his paintings have graced the pages and covers of national art magazines and his work is featured in over 20 books, the majority being art books. His painting, "Vineyard Radiance" was on the cover of The Best of Watercolor SPLASH 9.

Reynolds has assembled an impressive body of work and list of honors. He is a past winner of the Gold (1994) and Bronze (1993) honors in the California Discovery Awards, and the Bronze Award winner (1996) and Finalist (1999, 2000, 2004) n the Landscape category for the Artist's Magazine's National Art Competition. His work has been in numerous solo art exhibitions.


In a past commission, the United States Postal Service chose Reynolds to do the artwork for a stamp commemorating the famed Hearst Castle located in San Simeon. Selected as a Central Coast Wine Classic Commemorative Artist (1998, 2002 and 2009), Reynolds' painting entitled "Vineyard Light" (1999) is held in the collection of Meridian Winery. Reynolds was also a winner of the Purchase Prize Award in Ironstone Vineyard's national art competition (2000). Posters were published using his painting image to celebrate the annual event.


National publications regularly highlight Robert Reynolds' work. Features and occasional cover stories include: The American Artist", "The Artist Magazine", "Watercolor Magic", "American Artist Watercolor", "North Light magazine", and a number of other magazines. In addition to his own two books, "The Art of Robert Reynolds; Quiet Journey"; published Cal Poly University and "Painting Peaceful Places" by Robert Reynolds and Patrick Seslar; published by North Light Books. His paintings have appeared in a number of local magazines. Reynolds' watercolors have been in six of the prestigious watercolor books, "Splash" published by North Light Books and edited by Rachel Wolf. Also, his work has been highlighted in two of the French art magazine, "Pratique Des Arts". Also, his work has been included in a number of British art books.


Reynolds served as a Professor of Art at Cal Poly University for a good number of years and enjoyed working with the art students who were beginning their own journeys. This past year he had a solo art exhibition at the S.L.O. Museum of Art.


In 2005, Reynolds participated in the invitational Biennale International Dell' Arte

Contemporanea in Florence, Italy. He is listed in the Marquis journals: "Who's Who in   

American Art"; "Who's Who in America"; and "Who's Who in the World".        







5 thoughts on “Seeking the Subject

  1. I used to go out and take lots of pictures of what inspires me. Now it is difficult to be able to get out and do that. I love this painting of a vineyard as I am from Northern California and have many many times experienced this but never got a picture of it. Your painting brought back some of those memories of going out in the early fall and picking grapes on some of my friends vineyards, then we would have a party and feast and drink aged wine from the grapes that we picked a few years prior. What a wonderful memory… thank you

  2. Robert,

    My personal creed is to create art that portrays the artist’s response whatever the subject. For personal practice, and for the sake of communicating with the marvellous world of classical antiquity, I do draw and paint sculpture, a subject I find engrossing, adding to it my own response in terms of colour. I feel a dialogue is going on, along with a sensation of stroking these creations as though they real flesh, followed by a sense of total tranquility and satisfaction.

  3. Gihan Zohdy:

    Nicely spoken, Gihan. Robert

    Frustrated PleinAirArtist:

    What you see will either move you or not move you. If it doesn’t move you, I suggest that you quickly move on to other subjects until you do connect with a subject. It’s just not the subject, but the positive spaces and the negative spaces in and around the subject … the colors,the shapes, the darks and lights also have to add to the subject. Easy to say, harder to find. But who said that creating a painting was easy! Thanks for your comments. Robert

    Wetpaperfun, Thanks for your comments. You make me want to go out into the vineyard again! Robert