Subject Matter

One of the biggest problems I have is coming up with subject matter.  I want to paint (quilt, stitch, draw, carve, weave…) and my first thought is “what do I paint (quilt, stitch, etc…..)?”  So, I turn to my scans of old photos for inspiration.  This particular photo is of my sister, Donna, when she was 2 or 3.  She has the curliest hair ever and the story goes that she had to have it put into a ponytail or bun.  I don’t remember, I was a baby at the time.

I went to work on this picture.

This is the small color study I did in prismacolor pencils with a little pastel pencil.  I was going for vibrancy in color.

This is the 24″ square acrylic painting done from the color study.  I didn’t even look at the photo at this point, I wasn’t interested in creating a portrait of Donna.  I was more interested in being painterly.

I believe this in a nutshell is why I have such a hard time with calling myself an artist.  I am not so much inspired to paint a subject or express something in a painting as I have the desire to just paint.  Perhaps a career in house painting???

The original photograph was taken by T. J. Eubanks, my grandfather.  He had such crispness in the photo (it is a tiny photograph) and I went and obliterated it.

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10 Responses to “Subject Matter”

  1. Joan Baragar Says:

    whinning works to get something. You are way past this point. If you don’t have something good to say, say nothing. This works when your talking about your self also. I think you nailed it. I love everything but—the color under her dress. That shadow does not work in the picture but could in the original. Hard to tell on this. where is the bird?

  2. laurenfinley Says:

    I am not whining, Joan. This is trying to get an understanding of what I do, and what art is. I didn’t think it was bad…

    But thanks for pointing out the shadow. Perhaps it is a little too dark… I will work on it.

    Read again,it is a bunny, not a bird. That thing hanging from her hand…
    Oh, you were making a joke about all the birds I do?????

  3. Joan Baragar Says:

    I did not know Ted Eubanks was your grandfather.

  4. laurenfinley Says:

    Joan, I don’t know who Ted Eubanks is. My grandfather was much more important… Thomas Jefferson Eubanks.

  5. Karen Owen Says:

    I really think you captured the essence of the photograph and the sweetness of the subject without having to be crisp. Love the vibrant colors. And, it was a ponytail. Donna had to have a ponytail even though her hair was not long enough. I was there and old enough to remember.

  6. Elizabeth Harper Says:

    I think you’re amazingly talented! I know I tend to say the same things over and over, but I’m always impressed by your work. I’m not bothered by the shadow.

  7. steve Says:

    I think that this is simply wonderful…absolutely wonderful.

  8. Kathy S Says:

    The acrylic painting reminds me of the california impressionists or of early american illustrators. I like it a lot!

  9. June Says:

    What a great picture to work from, and i do like your painting, but I also like the pencil colour study equally! Each image has its merits. This is a picture you could explore further with many interpretations, and still learn from studying the original photograph.
    Nice work, thanks for sharing.

  10. Sonya Chasey Says:

    The photo is beautiful (& yes crisp).
    I can totally understand just wanting to paint for its own sake too.
    What I see here on the other hand is not as black & white as being “inspired to paint a subject or express something in a painting” as opposed to having “the desire to just paint.” Exploring the material aspects of paint doesn’t neccessarily rule out exploring your desire for expression as I see it. Otherwise why would you choose to paint your sister, photographed by your grandfather?! – for me you have managed to evoke something in your interpretations which communicates a sense of caring, intimacy & nostalgia.
    Sorry if I’m not very clear – just don’t be so hard on yourself – there’s not ever only one correct answer, I’m sure you know that really!
    p.s. I find the shadow aspect not important/relevant at all.

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