View Full Version : Poll question: Creating a painting

06-28-2013, 12:49 PM
This has probably been done before, but I don't remember it.
Poll question: As an artist, what do you feel is the most important part of creating a painting? List your responses in descending order from most important to least important.

A) Subject matter
B) Composition
C) Painting style
D) Opinions of others
E) Quality of materials
F) Originality (technically a subset of A)
G) Other ________

Thanks for playing :D


06-28-2013, 01:35 PM
I'll bite .:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
B A E F equally
All others irrelevant to me .
June:) :wave:

06-28-2013, 01:43 PM
I know what most of my workshop instructors would say "PLANNING". Doing a thumbnail sketch for values and composition. Doing some mixes with the palette you chose for this painting, etc. I cannot always say that has helped me but it's a good thing to get used to. I think like the saying goes "Paint what you love" is very true. If you are "feeling" your subject then it'll come across in the painting. Composition is VERY important. Style not so much. Good artist quality paper and paint a must. Opinion of others; certainly take their opinions into consideration but don't let them dictate to you how to paint your own painting.

It'll be interesting to see what others feel is the most important thing for them. For me? It's painting what I love; having a feel for my subject, feeling enthused and excited to get started on a painting, having a strong composition and design and hopefully convey that onto the paper.

virgil carter
06-28-2013, 03:23 PM
Tom, an interesting question. My take, starting with most important:

G: (other): intent
G: (other): sketch studies
A: subject matter
F: originality
B: composition
E: quality of materials
D: opinion of others
C: painting style

Darla raises good points worth considering. How will you ever make sense of the responses?

Sling paint,

06-28-2013, 03:26 PM
Fun question! I can't wait to read everyone's answers!

OK, let's see:

G) Other: Having Fun/Enjoying the Experience
B) Composition
E) Quality of Materials
C) Painting Style
F) Originality (but, for me, as a subset of both A and C)
A) Subject Matter

I don't really care about D. :cat: Well, if I were getting lessons/instruction, of course I care to hear what the instructor/critique says, but in general, I really don't care. I come from a long line of graphic/commercial and professional fine artists. When I showed an interest in art, as a kid, I got a lot of very well-meaning and also discouraging, unsolicited advice. When I finally tried painting and drawing on my own, as an adult, my first rule was to have fun and to not care what anyone else says. And now, I paint and draw for sheer fun and I am so happy I figured this out. I would never want to make my living by my brush, because I would never want to try to please anyone else.

Also, it pained me to pick B, as a second, because it seems so "technical," but paintings that work are generally well-composed. I think it is important to learn the rules of composition and then let that knowledge seep out, when composing a painting, without thinking about it, too hard.

I put A last, because anything can be interesting when seen through the mind of an artist!


06-28-2013, 04:04 PM
Subject matter first. But it is inextricably tied with composition. The subject matter and the composition are one unified message. That is, when you alter the composition the subject matter is different. And the subject can be something quite abstract, like "yellow light" or "jaggly lines."

Materials are what make up the subject matter, and may or may not be a big part of the message of the painting. A painting of the Queen of England done in Prang watercolors on typing paper will have a very different message from a painting with the same composition done in high quality watercolors, shell gold, and other precious materials on handmade linen paper or parchment. I think there can be good reasons for any choice of materials. It depends on the message the artist wants to convey, as well as what the artist wants to do with the finished painting - frame it, scan and print it, keep it in a sketchbook, etc.

Painting style is part of the overall message. The more an artist deviates from the popular styles of the day - e.g., to a style from the distant past, or to a far away culture, or to something totally original - the more the style takes prominence as a major part of the message. This is something I'm not delving very much into yet, as I'm just taking baby steps so far. But I think it is something that needs to always be considered as one of the major tools in communicating though a picture.

Opinion of others? I think I keep in mind not so much the opinions of immediate/local others (gallery visitors? neighbors? family? art teachers?) as I do keep in mind consciously or unconsciously what I have learned throughout my life about what a good painting should be. In that sense, the "opinions of others" - as in, the entirety of cultural influence - affects my paintings greatly whether I want it to or not.

06-29-2013, 08:35 AM
Hi Tom... interesting question...

A) Subject matter
This is the first thing I think about and how I want to depict it.

G) Other ________
Once I've decided *what* I want to paint, I next think about *why* I want to do it. What is it that I want to say about this subject. Virgil would say that I'm deciding upon my intent. I name the painting at this point.

B) Composition
So, now that I know *what and why*, I have to decide how best to describe them. I work at composition for some amount of time before arriving at what I hope will work best.

F) Originality (technically a subset of A)
It's not exactly a subset of A. But, I'm very careful to try to describe my subject in a manner that hasn't been done to death. There is a problem with that, because if it's too far out in left field, viewers may not understand it.

E) Quality of materials
I use artist grade materials, so this really isn't an issue. But I do take a lot of time to work out my colour scheme. The surface of my paper is important because I like to use rough for certain subjects, heavier cp for others, etc.

D) Opinions of others
Some have said this isn't a factor, but I think it is. We wouldn't post our work here if we didn't care what others thought about our work. I paint for myself, but I like to know that others find my paintings to be pleasing.

C) Painting style
I used to worry about painting a certain way. I'm too tight. I need to be looser. I need to paint certain subjects... I need to be something I'm not.... Hmmm... I was losing my joy of painting. So, now, I am what I am and I'm enjoying the process again. My style has developed over time and I'm sure that it will continue to change. I'm good with that.

06-29-2013, 12:57 PM
For me, it's (probably) the following:

1. Subject Matter--if I don't have something that truly interests me, I have a tendency to get really bored; more likely to mess up/quit working on it (esp. if things aren't going well). I'll take TONS of photos of what other people might think are "odd"/"ugly"/"boring"/"strange"--you never know WHAT might work in a painting!!!! I also will "move" my camera around as I'm taking a picture; sometimes, it will yield some very interesting stuff that could be used for an abstract painting.

2. Composition--Actually, this is probably the MOST IMPORTANT thing to me while I'm painting. If you don't have a great composition, why even bother...

3. Values--Another VERY important factor (in my paintings, at least...); I really strive for a good range and, when viewing other paintings, it's probably the first thing I notice (even BEFORE composition). I, myself, prefer high contrast paintings...

4. Originality--goes along with subject matter; I'm always striving to find what I think is original/unique (or, at the very least, a more original way of presenting what might be considered "commonplace" subject matter...)--the more unique, the better!

5. Quality Of Materials--not sure about the placement of this one; I strive to use the best quality materials that I can; I know that when I first started painting, my most important thought was COST. I had experience in art (college) so I KNEW about the importance of high quality materials; it's just that, when you are just beginning, you don't know whether you'll stick with it and tend to try to keep the costs down as much as possible. Now that I KNOW how much I LOVE watercolor painting, it's a priority to have the best--no matter what the cost! :heart:

6. Painting Style--I really WANT to paint looser than I do at present but I've kind of resigned myself to... "it is what it is"! I've come to the realization that if it happens, it happens--no sense worrying about it. I'm sure that the more I paint, the better I will get and, eventually--just maybe--I'll achieve the looseness that I want. If that doesn't happen, I'll just have to accept that. I feel like I DO have a style already...whether it's good or not is another question. :D

As for the "opinions of others"...I don't really care if somebody doesn't like what/how I paint; that's THERE problem--"to each his own". I do seek out the opinions of others when it comes to solving technical issues, values, etc...--always helps to have "fresh" eyes.

As "CallMeCordelia" said, if I'm not having fun doing what I'm doing...WHAT'S THE POINT! Usually, esp. lately, I'm finding that if I become "bored" with what I'm painting, I have to stop what I'm doing and start again with something else. I have at least a half dozen paintings recently where this has happened so I just keep changing subjects hoping SOMETHING will work. Now, I feel that the painting that I've been working on (almost completed) is one of the best that I've ever done; could be wrong about that--(just my own personal opinion)! I will eventually get back to the others (or just start them over)--have to always keep in mind--"it's ALL a learning experience!"

KEEP PAINTING!!! Sorry this got so long....


Saint Ragdoll
06-29-2013, 06:28 PM
Subject...if that spark " I gotta paint/draw this" isnt there I struggle and most times end up failing.....
Planning...i really want to just get started putting color on paper ut have realized the need to stop and think, where are the lights/ darks...composition, and my iggest problem right now...taking a complicated scene and uncomplicating it, making it simple, figuring out what to include and what to remove...

Materiels. It goes without saying, for me, to use the best quality that suits me. I use Bockingford paper not a more expensive paper but right now Bockingford works for me, ethically I think if there is a possibilitythe work could be sold, artists should use the best, as in lightfast, longest lasting, acid free etc materiels we can.
Freshness and Orginality . I try to think out of the box, to approach my subject thinking how can I do this in a waybthat is mine, not something that every other painter has done, or would do given this subject.making the painting look fresh as in not overworked and fresh in the sense of a new orginal way of approaching or portrayingthe subject, making the viewer say " wow!"

Saint Ragdoll

07-30-2013, 01:08 PM
Good Question Tom, For me it would have to be arriving at a completed painting that feels like something I have not seen before i.e. something that is fresh or original in subject matter or if it is familiar subject matter I arrived at a new way of painting it.

07-31-2013, 01:17 AM
Z) How I feel in my guts

07-31-2013, 06:35 AM
Interesting question, Tom.

1. Subject matter
I find a subject that I am involved with makes the painting go so much smoother in all aspects. Since I go to a watercolor class once a week, sometimes I need to have something to work on in class. If I just draw out "something", it becomes laborious rather than fun, when it is something I am interested in, time flys.

2. Composition
Mainly I work to simplify this, if possible, so the center of interest really is the star of the show and not hidden or misplaced. Also try to eliminate extraneous details that aren't needed to tell whatever story I am painting.

3. Palette
Deciding on the palette for the painting is important for me.

4. Style
As Pop-eye once said, "I yam what I yam" and that is a detail oriented person. No sense in trying to paint in a loosey-goosey style for me, I would miss all the little details that drew me to the subject in the first place. I enjoy looking at a variety of styles and admire any painting that is done skillfully whether loose or "tight" which I find a demeaning term for "with details" . ;)

5. Materials
As Char said, I only use artist grade materials, so this isn't a problem for me.

6. Opinions of others
I paint what I like to paint, but I also enjoy hearing (or reading) what others think of my work. I wouldn't be posting it here or on Facebook. One of the most enjoyable and informative parts of my watercolor class is the critique session at the end where our teacher discusses our paintings if we put them up on the front table. We all admire each other's efforts and learn from the little things that are pointed out as being very good or needing a bit more work.

7. Originality
I am working on this, trying to incorporate something that lifts my work a bit out of the ordinary. Still a work in progress though. :angel:


07-31-2013, 02:54 PM
Subjekt matter - I like history, archticture , nature :music:
Light & Shadow - I dont have a problem with a boring motive if there is interesting light - sometimes is another daytime the key :thumbsup:
Composition - I "spoil" sometimes 1/2 hour to find a good view

Jade Turtle
08-01-2013, 12:37 PM
Ok, long time lurker here, first time poster. I rarely get the pleasure of painting what I want as I paint custom pieces, so I'm mostly interested in "D" - opinion of others. Either I get paid for my work as an artist or I go get a "real job" and I did that for too many years to be successful at it any more! My work must reflect what I think the client thinks they want to see - with a little artistic license thrown in to protect my effort and time. After that I just try to make the experience fun for me and do the best I can. After choosing a subject matter that suits my talents all the other qualities listed come into play. But you have to look at each painting encounter differently based on the situation.

08-02-2013, 03:47 PM
All of the above come under G, other, because I'm with Cordelia. Enjoyment, intensity, getting into the process and the painting. Those things are going to matter in different ways to each of us.

Personal growth as an artist and a human being.

What's most important to me at the moment of creating a painting is what I feel like doing. It's literally a matter of mood. I'm learning something from it. I might be trying out kid materials to find out if my frustrations with them as a child were due to lack of skill or limits of the materials. Sometimes I find out I can do something great with them now that I know what I'm doing.

Opinions of others helps motivate me to paint. Painting is communication after all, so the responses of people who like the paintings do tend to guide me somewhat. I don't look for critique but I like reading tips and seeing positive comments will tend to draw me toward techniques I wasn't sure of like loosening up more and using more wet in wet stuff.

Composition's a skill, that's like color balance or accurate rendering or anything else. It'd be on my list of what goes into creating a painting only if that was what caught my eye in a reference photo or a subject. Any of those could be a starting point. Any of them could be irrelevant too.

So for me it's learning something - it's something about that painting that puts it right at the edge of what I can do leading toward what I want to be able to do. It's become habit. I learn from every painting I create and every painting I look at. I enjoy learning so maybe that's a variation on "joy" because it's the joy of learning as well as doing.

08-03-2013, 04:43 AM
Composition, value, subject, originality in that order.