Sunday, January 24, 2010

Subject matters?

Come on in. You're just in time!

Tea is brewing and my special artsy cups are laid out. Its my own special recipe doctoring Lipton with fresh cranberries, oranges, cilantro and a bit of brown sugar. When these flavors meld the taste will surprise you. (Its a good surprise...) Mike is just pulling the muffins out of the oven and swirling on the glaze. The smell of sweetened cinnamon fills the room.

Have a seat and lets talk about art.

What will it be? Composition? Color? Process? Or maybe subject matter? Oh, I like that one. Let's talk about subject matter. It's often overlooked as a good art topic to discuss. How's your tea? Would you like a bit more sugar? Lemon maybe?

How do we choose what we paint?

A common answer is usually what we're passionate about, what stimulates us. Typically, something moves as and we want to express our feelings about it. Maybe we have something to say or a story to tell. Perhaps we saw another's work and decided to try something different. There's a lot of reasons that come to mind around the concept of passion, but is it always the reason?

The power of suggestion. That trap can get me tangled. Why is it that we sometimes choose to veer away from our passion to paint what someone else wants? A gallery owner can make the simplest comment and suddenly those thoughts interfere with our own creative spirit. Naturally you'd like to please them, representation is important.

It isn't always your bread and butter (or as in today, your muffin and butter...), it can be anyone saying they prefer art that is like... Is it natural to examine our own mind each and every time? I know artists are hard on themselves. We are the worst. But still, why is it so hard to stick to our own passion?

Crazy things pop into mind like sales. No one will be interested in this... I fall into that one. Do you? I get tantalized by quiet little places in nature. You know, those sunlit grasses growing around the tree trunk. I could just zoom right in! Sometimes I do. But sales are easier when I paint a whole scene as opposed to a spot in the scene. It affects me. It affects what I choose to paint. I'm not proud to admit it, but its true.

I had this discussion with John Morris in Ireland. Subject matter. The importance of subject matter. He said he thought it was the most important for sales, followed by talent and then framing. What might a buyer be interested in looking at for a long period of time? He made some interesting points. One vegetable. It has a very limited place in the world... No matter how well you paint it or how passionate you are about it, it remains one vegetable.

Recently one of my representing gallery owner's said he can't believe he's saying it, but with the current economy, if a recognizable, local landmark or jut of land were placed beyond my children at the beach, it would be sold.

How do we ignore a comment like that?

I'm trying to stick to my guns. Currently nothing recognizable is beyond my children at the beach. They're all zoomed in. But who knows, in time I may get tempted to try a few, for experimental sake. What are your thoughts on this? Do you always paint what your passionate about? I mean, honestly...

Coffee and Curves 16x20" Original oil painting by Susan Roux


  1. I always listen to my gallery owners advice because they hear the direct comments of the public. I have recently changed my more spiritual looking work to a more decorative look. for me it is all spiritual and so I was not concerned when he told me that he thought I should consider a new direction. it has been quite good for me to change it up.

  2. Oh Susan....this is most lovely my dear!


  3. Susan - I'm happy to have found your blog. Your art is beautiful. I love this piece! Somehow I know you were very relaxed when you painted this. And something tells me the steam billowing off of the tea was your favorite part to paint.


    I am also an artist but not in oils. I enjoyed reading your thoughts and will be following!

  4. You're right Angie, the steam was my favorite part, but also the part I feared the most!

    Did you notice I painted the stem shadow in the opposite direction? I didn't want to direct the viewer off the painting... Ha ha


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