Friday, August 20, 2010

Choosing a subject for painting (Choice in art and art of choosing!)

Choice is a complex issue, whatever the context is. But in the case of painting it is intimidating if you are proceeding from an intention to paint, to the subject and then finally to the execution. I feel myself lucky if the order is, first the subject, then a compulsion to paint it and then the happy execution. Unfortunately there are occasions when the former is the case and I am considering only this scenario here.
My medium plays an important role in determining the aesthetics of my art. Just because I like something, I may not choose it as a subject for painting. I first consult my acrylics, canvas and brushes and make an informed decision. Of course I have a choice there too, but that choice is fairly limited. Personal preferences are different from aesthetic choice. I like ‘cherupayar paayasam’ (sweet pudding kerala version) but I shall not dare to paint it.
In the scenario I chose, a few unconscious mental processes take place. I have certain concepts about successful paintings. I have in my mind’s eye paintings of some old masters. Or even some modern masters. If my idea doesn’t conform to those, they are rejected. Being shockingly different is possible only once. Presenting a urinal as an installation work is no more art. It is plagiarism.
Another thought is about what I am good at. My own estimates about my abilities are often flowed. But confidence is important. So some subjects are preferred over some others.
Most important consideration however is my audience. This is not the case simply with painting. When you prepare a speech, this is your foremost consideration. Same is the case with any artistic expression. My paintings should be telling the spectator, “Buy meeeee!”. Market consideration is an undeniable influence until I can afford the exorbitant price of quality paint and canvas.
After all these mundane considerations, if my paintings have artistic value or worthiness to be termed as ‘good paintings’ I call myself successful.
A very good lecture by Sheena Iyengar is available in this link about the art of choosing.