Seeking the Subject

26 Feb 2013

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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wetpaperfan wrote
on 27 Feb 2013 2:23 PM

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

Gihan Zohdy wrote
on 2 Mar 2013 5:58 PM


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.

on 3 Mar 2013 1:32 PM

Ah, but how do you paint what you feel (vs what you see)?  

on 3 Mar 2013 6:22 PM

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

YAkina wrote
on 25 Mar 2013 3:39 PM

Unusual trees and water. Born and raised in Hawaii, the richness of our culture and beauty of our surroundings constantly inspires me.