Every painter and writer has a go-to subject matter, and I’m not any different. I’m sure in your own creation process you’ll find the same subject now and again.
Have you ever wondered why you prefer certain subject matter over others?
I can’t tell you your personal reasons, but I know from personal experiences why I love to draw people, imaginative creatures, and bananas.
I’m being serious about the bananas by the way. I love to draw them – in black and white. Even though they’re smooth, they have a unique form. When I take the peel off, they have a beautiful texture and those little stringy pieces. If you let them get old and spotty, there’s a natural contrast to your still life.
As a person who’s addicted to the creation process, I also love to create things that don’t actually exist, especially creatures. I’ve always been drawn to horror novels, not for blood and violence, but the monsters. One day, I hope sooner rather than later, I want to create the next big monster driven horror novel.
I’ve realized within the last year, I’ve given myself a lifelong task. I’m up against the works of Mary Shelley, H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, Bram Stoker, and dozens more. Any creature, not all monsters, I write into stories – or just make up in my head – I draw into existence. Then, they’re here and part of my reality.
Now, drawing people is the most frustrating experience I’ve ever undergone. I’m rarely satisfied with what I create. My inner-critic is the loudest while I draw portraits and figures, and most of these works are sketches.
When I look at people, I can’t help it. I want to draw their eyes, hands, feet, arms, their posture, and how they’re mingling together. It’s an impulse I’ve rarely been able to overcome. Why? Because they’re crazy interesting, and honestly, I feel a little less crazy drawing people than just staring at them.
Subject Matter Is An Important Way For Any Artist To Communicate
These subject choices say a lot about me and what everyday life is like in my head. I’m attracted to textures, contrast, unique forms, the rare and the crazy things about people.
Take some time to think about why you like certain subject matters? Or go through your works and find your three favorites? Or go and find something that you just can’t pry your eyes away from?
Remember, they will say so much about you as an artist, art – in any medium – is a communication process, and the subject matter you choose will say something to the world about you.
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Why do artists make art?
My students ask me questions like this every school year. I’ve learned they’re asking me, “Why do we bother creating art?”. I don’t know why many people create, but I do know why I paint, write and draw.
Last week, I made some Celtic spirals with watercolor and ink – why? Because I watched The Book of Kells and felt inspired. Yesterday, I started an abstract portrait – why? Because of a conversation I had with a colleague about personalities.
But Why Do I Feel Compelled to Make Art?
Some voice tells me, “CREATE!”, and I listen because I know what it feels like to not listen to that voice. It leaves me empty, frazzled, anxious and – at times – desperate. People crave many things in this world – I crave how I feel while I make art.
“I tell stories because I feel compelled to – I feel like I have to.” – Oliver Jeffers, illustrated of The Day the Crayons Quit
Like any junky, I want to dive more into that impulse and share my experiences. I want to have conversations about that thirst to create– or gnawing greed of a creative soul – I have every day and share my artistic struggles, frustrations, and victories living with this invisible push.
I’m pretty sure, after thirty years of living with myself, I will make art for the rest of my life. I will paint. I will draw. I will create worlds. I will think of stories. I will write stories. I will write conversations that never took place. Then, I’ll create some more.
I don’t know why you create, or if you feel the need. If you’ve never made something out a pile of other things, then, I dare you to create. Find whatever mediums you have available, even if it’s just your keyboard, and create today.
Want to join the conversation and tag along with some creative projects? Visit my About Page to read more about me and why I’m sharing my artistic journey with you.
Celery, charcoal and white pastel on grey toned paper, 36 x 30 in.
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