Have you ever wondered where to look for subject matter inspiration, whether for drawing or painting? Here's a suggestion: look around you.
It's easy for us to overlook the simple things around us, and take them for granted. But truthfully, they can give us so much to make art about. And learning to recognize the beauty all around us is a very good thing — because there really is beauty all around us. We just sometimes need to learn to see it!
So what might you draw or paint?
How about that cup of coffee or tea you enjoy in the morning? Or the cup itself? Or, take a look in the refrigerator, and see what you find. A strawberry? A banana? An unopened wedge of Brie in an interesting package? An onion? A pepper? A pear?
Look around the house. Do you have a salt-and-pepper shaker? A pitcher? A book? A stack of books? An alarm clock? A candlestick? A chair? A shoe? A purse?
Think of all the things you love in your immediate environment. You don't even have to step outside to find inspiration and subject matter.
And if you do want a little more challenge without stepping outside, consider drawing or painting your dog or cat sleeping. In the video above, you can watch me draw my adorable dog Zoe (who's unfortunately no longer with us) as she was sleeping, from a photo I took of her a long time ago.
And when you do step outside, I hope you'll take a good look and appreciate the beauty just outside your door, too. Just think, how lucky are we to have cameras in the phones we carry with us? It makes taking a photo for posterity — and future references for drawing and painting — as easy as pie.
Oh, pie! Now, there's another potential subject.... 🙂
Have you ever considered creating your paintings in a series? It can be a really effective way of focusing your learning. It can also be a great way to pull together an art show, either your own or a group show with your friends or fellow students.
So, what are some of the possibilities? What kind of series are we talking about? How might you approach it? Here are five ideas for series of paintings you can create.
1. Choose one subject, and explore it in multiple ways (such as a simple still life — one pear, or one apple).
2. Choose one subject, and explore it in the style of a different painter in each painting.
3. Create one composition, and paint each one in the same size, using a different palette in each painting.
4. Choose a theme, and create a series of paintings that fit your theme.
Landscapes of Napa Valley? Pears? 2020 — a Year We Will All Remember? Springtime Flowers? My Favorite Dogs? The Most Adorable Cats You've Ever Seen? (We don't want any cats to feel left out or overlooked, right?) Jazz Musicians? Portraits of Costumed Models?
You get the idea....
5. Choose a theme, and create a series of paintings fitting the theme, all in one color palette (it unifies everything, doesn't it?)
Then, explore your series! What can each painting teach you as you move through the series? What can you learn from each new painting that you hadn't learned yet? Yes, paintings can be our teachers. And working in a series is a good way to explore, to discover, and to learn and grow as a painter.
Karen Lynn Ingalls
I am a working artist in Napa and Sonoma Counties, in northern California. I paint colorist landscapes of rural California, teach art classes, workshops, and private lessons, and live in Calistoga, California.