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What’s your favourite subject?

I think the last couple of blog posts have focused a lot on my physical health and my mental health. And whilst I do enjoy waffling about my ever-growing list of problems, I realise it’s not always much fun to read, even if it’s art-related!


With that in mind, let’s focus on something a bit more fun this month.


Every artist has their biases when it comes to subjects to draw, and I thought I’d discuss my favourites, and rate them accordingly!



DOGS

The best right now

This might come as no surprise to most of you. I love petting dogs, I love seeing dogs and (of course) I love painting dogs!


Dogs have recently become my favourite, not just because they are my favourite animals out there, but I think they offer a lot of fun challenges when creating, regardless of the medium you choose.

Painting of Rosie, the Working Cocker Spaniel by Tleetify Art

Dogs are one of the most diversely varied animals in terms of physical

appearance. Some dogs are fluffy, some are curly. Some are big and some are small. Some have fancy clips and long flowing hair, while some are super short. Some are built like tanks and others are slender and elegant. And yet, in most cases, those appearances make them brilliant at the particular jobs have been bred for over generations.


When it comes to a subject you can’t get any more interesting than dogs in my mind. Just when you think you’ve figured out how to paint or create one dog, another appears, looking completely different and gloriously unique. It’s a quality no other animal on earth has and it’s one I never get bored of both seeing and learning to paint.



HORSES

A long-standing favourite

I adored horses as a teen, and they have been my go-to choice of subject for the majority of my time creating art. However, I feel that in recent years, they've lost some of their appeal to me.


As a teenager, a big inspiration for my drive to paint horses was that I saw them less as a key subject on the sites I visited, and being a teenager I just had to be ‘different’ from everyone else! I also believe that the desire for something I couldn't have played into my drive to paint horses. I spent most of my childhood living in cities and my parents couldn’t afford to pay for horse riding lessons, which only made me want to do that more.


A painting of a horse by Tleetify Art
A painting referenced off an image by ©Colourize-Stock

However, my love for horses as a subject continued to grow. Horses have such a unique anatomy compared to other animals, and it’s a constant challenge I still enjoy to get their movement and look as close as possible to how powerful and graceful they are in real life.


I main reason for my waning interest in painting horses comes down to one key factor: my allergies. At around 14 I developed allergies to a majority of animals and plants. After dealing with that the way only a teenager can: Getting cross with myself and truly believing, once learning I couldn’t be around them, that learning about my allergies was the worst day of my life. (Oh how naive!) My interest slowly started to wane from there.


As I've grown older and prioritised my health, I've come to accept that I don't know much about horses beyond how to paint them! My childhood dream of owning a bunch of horses became unrealistic as I realised the financial challenges involved. Owning a dog, which I'm less allergic to and can afford, became a more viable option as I interacted with them regularly.


MYTHICAL STUFF

It’s cool sometimes

Drawing of a dragon saying 'Cheese' By Tleetify Art

I feel like anything fantastical is a curve ball. It’s great to use your imagination to make something new, and you can challenge or simplify as much as you see fit. I feel a calming sense of catharsis when working on something unreal that the real world just can’t touch.


But I must admit I get a great sense of gratification from capturing real animals that mythical artwork can't match.


In my mind, mythical creatures are my sanctuary, providing relaxation when real-life subjects leave me burned out or bored. A great comfort for me, but not something I regularly visit.


CATS

I find you neat, but also no thanks

Growing up we always had cats. And I was obsessed with our big chunky rebellious cat: Samson. Cats are brilliant creatures. Whenever I have painted them in the past I’m always drawn to their big eyes which speak to me in a way other animals’ eyes just don’t.


Unfortunately, much like horses, I became deathly allergic to cats as a teen. Once I came to accept I couldn’t exist near them for long my interest in them, again, waned.


I still have an incredibly soft spot in my heart for cats. However, I feel that as an adult, I gel more with dogs in terms of personality, and as a result, I rarely choose cat subjects. "I have also found that my confidence in capturing cat anatomy has decreased due to choosing other subjects over them, which compounds the issue further.

I do think that in the near future, I'll challenge myself to paint more cats, but currently, as much as I love them, my motivation isn't strong enough.


Painting of a tiger by Tleetify Art
A painting referenced off an image by ©MoonsongStock


REPTILES

I don’t know where I’d start...

I consider reptiles one of the biggest challenges for me to draw, not only because they are so different from my usual choice of subject, but also because I'd need to learn new skills to capture them accurately.

Their scales intimate me. They’re such intricate, detailed creatures and I imagine capturing them can, at times, be a challenge. At least texturally. When it comes to their anatomy at the very least they seem easy to understand!


I think of reptiles as one of the biggest challenges for me to draw, not only because they are so far off my usual choice of subject, but because of the new skills I’d need to learn to capture them fully. I’d have to motivate myself to give them a try.


BIRDS

Like reptiles, only harder...

Birds, to me, present twice the challenges compared to reptiles. Not only texturally would I struggle with feathers, as they’re something I haven't painted often, but their anatomy is incredibly unique and difficult to get right. It’s also vastly different to the quadrupeds I’m used to. I’d honestly prefer to pick up reptiles over birds for the simple reason that tackling both anatomy and feathers would be a hard task to perfect.


That's not to say I'll never give it a try, though. It’s just not one I’m keen on at the moment!

Drawing of a goose by Tleetify Art


HUMANS

Honestly, they scare me

Nothing scares me more than humans – well in art anyway!

A drawing of a witch and cat by Tleetify Art

In my mind, if we were to scale difficulty, animals would be on one side and humans on the opposite side of a ravine when it comes to the skill needed to capture them correctly. I honestly haven't tried painting a person in a couple of years, and I'm honestly not keen on trying.


I think the biggest hurdle with humans is getting over the ‘uncanny valley’ effect. One downside to making people is that even if you can’t draw, most of us know when something is off with anatomy because we’re hardwired to know faces and people so well. Adding onto that, humans are your peers and your friends. An animal isn’t going to care as much about how you capture their smile or eyes correctly, a disgruntled human certainly will.


I feel that with humans as subjects, you have to take a leap of faith, jump into the unknown, and be prepared to be humbled. And to be honest with you, I'm not sure it's something I want to attempt yet!



PLANTS

I find it a bit bland...

I wish I had a better reason to not be a fan of drawing plants. Especially as an owner of a large collection of orchids and carnivorous plants. But outside of finding joy in existing near them, I just don’t find joy in drawing them at all.


English spring leaf drawings by Tleetify Art

I've realized that I love drawing eyes in all my pictures. They capture the soul in a way other parts of nature don’t. With plants, there are always points of interest, like a big leaf or a flower. But it just doesn’t evoke the same joy in me as painting a portrait of any animal.

That's not to say I don't draw plants though—I much prefer sticking to simpler drawings because I find I lose interest quickly when I don't have a face to focus on for more detailed paintings.

Now excuse me while I go apologise to my plants!



BACKGROUNDS

Sorry, I fell asleep...

Similar to plants, as much as I love capturing nature, I struggle when there's no living point of interest with a face. I tend to do the odd background study just to make sure I can paint backgrounds well. Apart from that, I don't find much joy in working on backgrounds at all. It's just not my cup of tea, really! But hey—to each their own.


A forest study by Tleetify Art


PHEW!

I could go into more details and cover more but when I think of subjects, these are the main ones that come to mind. I don’t think there’s such a thing as a ‘bad’ subject. But as an individual, we’re of course all so different and what motivates us is sure to vary.


With that in mind, what’s your favourite subject to draw? Or better yet, do you have a muse or character you love to paint? I’d love to hear about them!

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