“We often avoid studying the things we love in depth … because we;re afraid we’ll miss out on all the other things that might be out there.”
— Austin Kleon, “More advice for the recent graduate“, 25 May 2017
How many one-time subjects have you painted? Do it once and never again but move onto something new? Even if you were pleased with the result, what else might you have done with it?
If you start with a fresh subject every single time you paint, you’re needing to establish everything from scratch. If you start with a subject that has a little familiarity, you’ve a head start.
People don’t (generally) whinge that Monet painted the same things over and over. Poplar trees. Hay stacks. Rouen cathedral (more than 30). His lily pond, again and again and again some 250 times. Rather we wonder at the different versions of the same thing, his persistent, in-depth study of colour and light in one subject chasing an intangible.
This is not to say you have to do it all at once. Three years separate these paintings of Monet’s:
Don’t let yourself be pressurised into moving on from a subject if you’re not ready to, or stopping you from coming back to it. Your friends, family, art group may question your doing so, and be overly ready with suggestions for other subjects, but those can wait until another day when you’re ready. We may not be Monet, but we can learn from his example and know that we’re not missing out on all those other subjects, we’re allowing ourselves to enjoy a particular one more.