Do you prefer themes, or are the subjects you paint more random and unrelated?
A theme is a series of artworks that are linked by a common thread. The danger working this way is that all your work my end up looking similar, what I refer to as ‘rubber stamping’.
On the plus side, you can produce a wonderful array of work if you explore all the possibilities of your theme.
The first challenge is to choose a theme that has ‘flexibility’. It can be an object, an issue or a social comment, for example. When an idea is chosen, it’s time to put in the ‘hard yards’ and do some serious research.
I have worked in a number of themes over the years and I believe that a theme is never ‘over’. When you’ve had enough working with a theme it’s time to ‘let go’ and try something new and unrelated. But there’s no reason why you can’t return to a particular theme sometime in the future.
One theme that I particularly enjoyed was simply about a ‘red line’ that I saw painted on a footpath in Hobart, Tasmania’s capital city. I loved the way the line weaved its way across both bitumen and concrete. Its strong, red colour contrasted beautifully with the greys and black of the background.
This also resulted in a painting that took the line into a landscape setting. Mountain, (top photo) was more about imagination than observation. I enjoyed the break from focussing on the footpaths and their individual details.
For the bottom coloured pencil painting I used a deeper red for variation.
I feel that there’s more to come with this theme. Whatever I decide, the red line must remain, red, because that’s where it all started. What can change is what the red line means.