Tuesday, September 10

No. 1 Rule for Selecting the Best Motif

Kinston Ave., Culver City
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
8 x 8 in/20.3 x 20.3 cm
Copyright 2013
Here's a California street scene I recently painted. A simple motif, it was a hazy morning, and I liked the atmospheric view of the Baldwin Hills in the background.

Selecting a great motif, or even a good one, is about the most important thing a painter can do, other than the actual technique and talent in laying down the paint.

I often have trouble selecting a motif that I think (and hope) will make good painting. I'm guessing most painters have the same kind of trouble.

What makes a good motif? The cliche of art being in the eye of the beholder holds true. What many would agree is a great motif may be frowned upon by other painters with just as much of an artistic eye as you.

So, my no. 1 rule for selecting the best motif is that it first pleases you, the painter. You must have some level of excitement about spending your time re-creating the illusion; otherwise, you will quickly become disenchanted. You will not give it your best, and you may even give up.

Of course, a good composition, color palette, and your ability to paint go a long way, too.

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