I think most painters choose subjects that resonate with them in some fundamental way. For some, their subject finds them through a life-changing experience that just craves to be expressed. A landscapist may wish to communicate their joy of the first time they saw an ocean, a figure artist may share the bittersweet emotion of watching their children growing up, and the still life may examine the curious items found in an attic. The abstract artist expresses the visceral emotion of colour, shape and flow and perhaps leaves the interpretation to the viewer. Even the darker feelings of sadness, loss, regret or angry protest are fodder for the easel. Often, information about a historical event is culled from the artwork of that era.

phoca thumb l oriental blueI choose my subjects from life, as I know it. The idea for my Heritage Still Life paintings came to me when I was downsizing my mother before a move to a retirement home. There was polite disappointment from various family members over the items that they were not to receive, often connected to fond memories the item evoked and often without consideration for where they could possibly store them. My solution was to paint Heritage Still Life paintings, showing the cherished items in use or displayed as a testimonial to the person who owned them. I sometimes like to include a humorous, tongue-in-cheek element that only is discovered after looking for a while. The idea has taken wings and is a popular source of commission work for me.

phoca thumb m rock of ages 1024pxPortraits of Life; It started as a young teenager when I would draw the dancers from the class preceding my ballet lessons while I waited. I loved the movement, the curve of their bodies, and the strain to reach beyond just holding a position. I was caught up in the romance of the life of a dancer. At school, I often drew humorous caricatures of people and events in my school community for the enjoyment of my friends. I still find humour in my world as I go through my day. Watching my son, Kit, grow from baby to a man inspired me repeatedly. There was certainly humour and love in the work I created for my own collection of him. I am fascinated by other cultures and have enjoyed a trip to Egypt and Cuba in recent years. Traveling closer to home, in the subways of Toronto, I was inspired to start a series on street musicians. Again, more inspiration for my's always on my mind.

That brings me to the environment surrounding my model. I love to create a sense of place, often drippy to show how transient life is. Sometimes I eliminate the model and just create the environment where hopefully the viewer will be curious about who lives there and what their life must be like or who/what has passed this along this trail.

I urge you to find the subject that has meaning, and fascination for you. Your passion will come through and you will connect with viewers through your artwork. You've got something to say, so say it...someone will hear you. People often comment on the narrative in my work, even if there really isn't a full story. Hopefully they want to know what comes next, and are engaged in the result.

Now, there are those who take a more cynical view of their art career and paint what is popular or trendy, what they think sells, or what comes easiest to them, churning out the same old thing because they don't have to think about it. That is unfortunate...they are missing the opportunity to really grow, to stand out from the crowd trying to flog their wares, and perhaps even find success with an art career.

What turns your crank and why do you paint what you do?


#2 Judy 2014-09-14 01:45
:-) Great website and blog. Congrats Kelly

#1 Judy 2014-09-14 01:43
What turns my crank? I love the majestic mountains, rivers, creeks or brooks, beach scenes, rocks. Would love to paint flowers and people but have yet to find "my style" as I travel and learn from teachers and friends. It can be an escape and time can fly but still I paint. (Not as much as I want or should, life can interfere sometimes). I get excited by finally understanding colours, still a learning process.

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