How do I decide what to paint?
Should I paint flowers, animals, or landscapes? Should I paint boats, portraits, or buildings. Should I paint koi, bamboo, or pandas? Should I forget about painting objects with names and paint abstract patterns instead? Should I paint what others want to buy or what I want to create? Should I paint from a book, DVD, or someone else's photograph?
The list of possibilities is endless, and the answer in each case is "yes." You have permission to paint anything you want, in any way you want. You are free to paint a subject of your choice, using a method of your choice, and creating shapes, values, colors, textures of your choice.
These personal choices are the essence of authenticity.
But you can't say "yes" to every subject and every method at the same time. It depends on the setting of your personal "purpose meter" at this particular point in time.
We paint for different reasons at different times.
Sometimes we want to capture an image that has personal significance to us. Other times we are asked to capture an image that is important to someone else.
Sometimes we want to learn a new technique by following detailed steps provided by another artist. Other times we want to experiment in the world of "what if" art. If salt creates an interesting effect, what if I tried pepper? If scraping with a credit card works, what if I tried a plastic spoon?
Sometimes we paint just to be in that solitary artistic space, that personal creative state of mind. Other times we want to be surrounded by friends who are visiting, laughing, sharing their lives as they paint.
Sometimes we paint to stretch ourselves, to move outside our comfort zone and explore new dimensions of our lives. Other times we want to relax and paint within the confines of what we know well.
Sometimes we paint because we have a unique vision that we feel compelled to share with the world. Other times we are content to copy the vision of another artist, hoping to learn from them.
Sometimes we paint to decorate a particular corner of our home. Other times we accept a commission that will be displayed in someone else's home or business.
Sometimes we paint because it helps us understand ourselves and the world around us more fully, knowing that the more we look, the more we see.
And sometimes we paint just because it feels good. We paint for pure joy of it.
Set your "purpose meter" to any setting and paint.
If you can't come up with any particular reason to paint, set your purpose meter to "no particular reason," and just paint.