A lot of times during a workshop, students ask me what my thinking is when i'm looking for something to paint. so i decided to give you some of my mental processes when i'm out trying to find something to paint. these are in no particular order-
- stay in particular areas that you've found lots of things to paint, on a consistent basis, in the past. sort of like a fisherman tends to go to the same places or "honey holes" because he knows that fish hang out there. He knows he's caught fish there more times than not
- you have certain things you like. say a backlit boat, or a cottage with late afternoon light on it, etc. so go out looking for things you know have worked out for you before
- squint at the potential scene you're contemplating. make a square out of your fingers to frame the composition to see if the arrangement of fuzzy shapes is interesting.
- i have places i go when i don't mind being around curious bystanders, and places i go if i really want to paint alone. have a few places of your own depending on how you feel that day
- when you find a place you like, "crawl" every inch of it, trying to get to know the place. the longer you paint there the more things you'll consistently find.
- times of day and seasons can change familiar places and give you many more opportunities. go back to old haunts. boats get moved, new buildings get built, old trucks get put out to pasture in a field that didn't have one in it last time you were there.
- you can drive by a scene a hundred times and all of a sudden its as if you're seeing it for the first time and it needs to be painted. keep your eyes open at all times. you never know when you'll see something that just needs to be painted. and it may be on your own block or on the other side of town. you don't have to go far to find things to paint
- i get an "ahaaa" moment when i see something that needs to be painted. its the contrast, or the color, or the shapes. something makes you want to paint it. go with it when that happens to you too.