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Tips on how to choose a subject for your artwork.

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

Are you having trouble deciding on the subject for your next work of art? Feeling lost and uninspired? You’re not alone, it happens to every artist (even the professional) from time to time, but we have a few tips to help you through it.

“The faculty of creating is never given to us all by itself. It always goes hand in hand with the gift of observation. The true creator may be recognised by his ability to find about him in the commonest and humblest thing, items worthy of note.” Igor Stravinsky

In other words, try and look at your environment in a whole new way.

“Everything is a subject, the subject is yourself. It is within yourself that you must look and not around you…The greatest happiness is to reveal it to others, to study oneself, to paint oneself continually in [one’s] work.” Eugene Delacroix

Art should also be about what matters to you, your interpretation of visual sensations, your knowledge and understanding of what you are seeing and your feelings or emotional response.

“What we need is more sense of the wonder of life and less of this business of making a picture.” – Robert Henri

Push the boundaries and try something new. Silence the doubting Thomas’s and worry not about the painting or subject itself, but lose yourself in the beauty of the creative process. Remember why it is that you paint.

Still searching? Look to those that came before you. Use a trip to a gallery or library or even a search on the internet to visit or revisit past masters. Take inspiration from their subject matter and take the opportunity to make it your own.

Overall, when it comes to choosing the subject for your next artwork, it should come down to two fundamental aspects, challenge and connection. What subject matter will create a unique challenge for you as an artist and what subject possesses either an aesthetic experience or an emotional connection within you?

Art classes with an experienced teacher will help you to hone in with your skills and allow you to be surrounded by like-minded souls, offering advice, support and the sometimes elusive inspiration. Contact Ellen Michel Art School for more information.

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