One of the comments I often hear about my more offbeat subject matter is “How do you make something so unattractive look so interesting?” The answer is simple, it IS interesting to ME! Choosing what to paint is a highly personal decision, your subject has to be of interest to you otherwise it won’t be of interest to anyone else.
That is why I am so adamant about only working from my own reference materials such as photographs I take (never anyone elses unless it is a commission), sketches done on location or if possible, working directly from life. We all know that working from life is a great way to learn to see colors and improve drawing skills, but it isn’t always logistically possible. I don’t think the NJ Dept. of Transportation would be too thrilled to have me pull over on the Pulaski Skyway connector and whip out my easel. However, about a year ago I was on that road and the light passing through the slats in the covered roadway was amazing. It’s also such an icon of a NJ roadway, anyone who lives in North Jersey and has driven into NY via the Lincoln Tunnel knows exactly where this is. I had to paint it! So I took some digital shots through the windshield (I was not the driver and luckily I had my camera with me).
Being excited about your subject is the most likely way to get the results you want from your paintings. You have to be excited by what you are painting, if you are, that excitement will shine through in the results, and you can make whatever subject you choose come to life with vibrance and energy.