The other night at a painting event, a large group of painters were enjoying a dinner at days end. The seating was community style at long tables in a courtyard. The gentleman I was seated next to started to converse.
“How do you pick your subjects?” he asked. “I don’t know”, I said. We continued talking and probing this topic for a little while, finding similarity in our processes of selecting subjects for a canvas. Finding “the hit” seemed to be the common idea. It’s an idea that is hard to put your finger on, so to speak. The search is just kind of intuitive while in “looking mode” that when something simply strikes you, it rings true to some kind of sensibility and one feels compelled to work with that particular thing or scene.
We spoke more about it and it seems we both agreed that a lot of it depends on mood, or more appropriately, what is found that may match the sentiment already carried by the artist. That’s an interesting thought. It may make us ask the question; what is the artist bringing to the subject? What is it within that particular artist that causes a response to what is before him or her? We loosely concluded that the response is usually less about the actual subject or objects but rather some aspect of it that is mostly responsible for the interest. A streak of light, a contrast of forms, a sense of space, or an shot of color. These are the things that are searched for in a way that cannot be calculated before hand. It is simply seeing for the want of a story to share.