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7 Methods for Choosing Better Subject Matter

7 Methods for Choosing Better Subject Matter

Eric Maisel

3. Alter It Slightly or Completely

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Mondrian's "Apple Tree in Flower"

You may decide to alter the apple’s look for artistic, psychological, social, philosophical or spiritual reasons, making it surrealistically weep, presenting it as solid as a rock as everyman’s fruit (think of Van Gogh’s “Potato Eaters”), giving it a wispy look as an object in Heaven, and so on. Or you may alter it so radically and drastically that it becomes a cubist fantasy, Mondrian-like, or otherwise completely unrecognizable. To get a sense of this process of altering you might track the many studies that Mondrian made as he further and further abstracted an apple tree until its final incarnation (see, for instance, his “Apple Tree in Flower” as one example).

4. Show Off Your Skills

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Fantin-Latour's "Plate of Apples"

An artist may want to display his skills and produce super-realistic objects that allow him to demonstrate how he can handle the folds of drapes, the sheen on grapes, or the rust on fire escapes. In part he is aiming for a psychological effect and in part he is simply showing that he is good at what he does. Think in this regard of an artist like Fantin-Latour and his 1861 painting “A Plate of Apples” or the contemporary Canadian painter Mina dela Cruz’s “Rojo y Verde.”


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