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How to choose an appropriate subject for art

How to choose subject for art_artcrafttherapyroom

“What and how to choose as an appropriate subject for drawing?” – is a question that often boggles our mind. We spend hours trying to draw inspirations from different sources. We can’t seem to focus on any one thing to satisfy our mercurial nature. It is really not that difficult to choose a subject. I will shed some light on how to get it done.

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Even before you select anything and any paint touches the paper try to ponder these questions that will ease the process:

  • What am I going to paint?
  • What mood and feelings am I going to convey?
  • What kind of shapes and lines will I use in my composition?
  • What size will my painting support, my brushstrokes, and my color areas be?
  • What paint medium(s) will I use?
  • What techniques and textures will I incorporate?
  • What color scheme will I follow?

Remember that no subject is boring, bland or insignificant. It is how to see it and how you show it to the world that makes it interesting.



Begin by brainstorming ideas. Write down all subjects, themes, places, things, activities or issues that are personally relevant and that matter to you, no matter how random or unexpected they are. The motivation behind any fine art is to impart a message: to remark or shout or sing about the world in which we wind up in. If there is no emotion behind the work, there is no driving force – nothing to direct and shape your decision making. Write down the things that you care about; that move you.


Incorporate topics that are strange, testing, questionable, coarse or motivating: those that fill you with enthusiasm. Artists who select significant, ardent issues that they truly believe in will probably accomplish extraordinary outcomes than the artists who pick stylishly satisfying yet shallow subjects. Selecting a fresh and out of the box topic has its advantages. It allows you to combine simple, unrelated things and produce an amalgam of something beautiful and unique.



Now time to evaluate your ideas by thinking careful about the subjects you have considered. Eliminate the following:

Subjects which are ‘cheesy’, insincere and overly “pretty” or lacking in substance. This doesn’t mean that a traditionally ‘beautiful’ subject cannot be successful.
Subjects which you are unable to explore first-hand because by relying on photographs taken by others you can rarely do them justice.

  • Subjects for which the source material is excessively simple, i.e. containing only a few forms, textures and patterns.
  • Subjects for which the source material is excessively simple, i.e. containing only a few forms, textures and patterns. 
  • Subjects that lack aesthetic appeal.
  • Subjects those are too generic or overdone. Everyone wants to recreate famous pieces of art but you should try to come up with something on your own that keeps you motivated enough to draw more.



Here are some subjects to hone your skills and even sell:

  • Traditional Landscape Paintings and Local Views. Drawing outdoors teaches more and even sparks a nostalgic and sentimental value.
  • Abstract Paintings. These will give the viewer to interpret the work in any way they want. The freedom associated with this immediately makes people value your work more. 
  • Figure Studies and Nude Paintings. This is the best way of learning how to draw human and animal figures.



To conclude always avoid setting yourself up for disappointment: choose a subject and a medium that you feel comfortable with, one that you feel you can handle. Start from simple subject matter, focusing on learning the basic skills of painting. Learn by doing, experimenting with colors, techniques, and composition. Most of all have fun. Even if your painting does not come out as you expected, even if you need to wipe it off and start again, I assure you it was not in vain. Every brushstroke teaches you something. Whatever you decide to paint let it be your own choice and make sure to express your personal interpretation of the subject.


Introduction to Drawing with Molly Hatch

Image source: Neven Krcmarek (unsplash) plus our logo

Writing Source: A Mim Likhon

How to choose an appropriate subject for art by The Art & Craft Therapy Room

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