There are pretty good and logical reasons for beginner painters to choose predictable subjects. There are beginner fruit, mainly pears and apples, then come trees of different seasons, then sheds and old houses and so on. I speculate that these subjects are selected because they are tangible and contained, have reasonably interesting but not complicated forms, are easily found and well known. It is much easier to paint something you know. The subjects being well contained allow the student to concentrate on a small area at hand with little worry of what’s next. These qualities make them well suited for teaching and learning.
I did my predictable “beginner” pears and now have moved on to my “beginner” trees. My teacher complimented my brush work in class yesterday, even showed it to other people. She is very kind and a very experienced educator. She is able to find something to compliment in a most hideous work – a remarkable ability and at the same time a necessity for a teacher. When I am faced with ugly art, the best I can do is keep my opinion to myself.
I also learned some color “recipes”. I find the approach similar to cooking recipes. When I start cooking a new cuisine, say Thai, I cook from cookbooks at first. Then something happens, I internalize the essence of new cuisine, abandon cookbooks and cook “free hand” so to speak. But in the beginning I need recipes. I was very excited yesterday to mix my own Payne’s Grey from Burnt Umber and Ultramarine Blue. The best part is that I can now vary my Payne’s Grey to be warmer or cooler as I need it.