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  • Helen English Artist

How to create good art

New month, new topic! Following a month talking about skill building, February seems like a good time to look at what we are trying to achieve when we produce art.


Of course the motivation can be quite different for each of us when we pick up creative tools, whether that be pencils, paintbrushes, palette knife, hammer and chisel, sewing machine. However, there are often thoughts which occur to us all at some point.


What type of art inspires us?

How do we produce good art?

Who do we allow to influence whether we decide our own work is good?

All huge questions which would keep a meeting of art lovers busy for hours!


My answers come with a c aveat. Firstly, my point of view is exactly that and my answer may not be your answer however there are some pointers which are generally agreed on and that’s what I want to write about. Also, I will be focusing on two dimensional painting but a lot of the theory can be applied to other forms of art.


Art which appeals to us, and pulls us in to look more, usually comes about because the artist has either intentionally or intuitively thought about subject matter, colour, composition and style. I will start by talking about subject matter this week and then over the next weeks go into more detail about the other elements of artwork.


Subject matter is about what you choose to depict in an artwork. It can broadly be divided into landscape or close up work of a subject. Even taking into account abstract works, they have a subject matter, even if it is a feeling being expressed. How do you choose your subject matter? I think that the most important thing here is that you should paint what you want to paint. Obviously you could go to a class to learn a skill and be given a topic or, happy dance, be commissioned to paint a something or someone but it should bring you joy. If it doesn’t, then you need to ask yourself why you are doing it. It’s much easier to practise and improve when you are intrinsically motivated.


I hope that I have sparked thoughts for your creative choices.


Next week I am going to discuss the whats, hows and whys of colour and how that impacts a painting.

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