Do you see a pattern?

We have an infinitive amount of subjects that could inspire us, but usually we pick the same subjects again and again.

If you can identify the patterns that lead to your choise you will learn a lot about yourself and your art.

Painting photos of others

If you use a photograph as a reference that you did not shoot yourself, then you are facing a particular difficulty:
You were not there on your own, you did not notice the atmosphere and real colors, you did not see the object or the scene from different angles.
You only have one photo. No more information. Especially for beginners, it is therefore difficult to interpret the photo correctly.
It helps to paint a lot of life or at least self-made photos. Over time, craftsmanship and creativity can offset the lack of information.

Theme

The difference between theme and subject is the following:

The theme is what you are talking about and the subject is the example that makes your point clear.

For example:

Theme: Broken thing can be beautiful.

Subject: A vase with a wonderful crack.

Talk about ideas

One of the difficulties in dealing with ideas is that we often become aware of all the problems that need to be overcome when we are executing the idea.

In order to speed up this process, it may be advisable to talk to a person who is totally uninvolved. Tell the person about your idea and how you plan to execute.

So you can go through the process mentally really quick without having to start with the execution.

Old ideas

I like sketchbooks because I can easily switch into my old brain and think about old ideas that were generally good, but my execution at that time was not appropriate.

There is always a gap between idea and execution, but it should not be too big.

Process instead of subject

Maybe it is a good idea to think about the process first. Think about how you will do things and what tools you will use before you commit to a subject.

This is the opposite of a recipe were you want a specific result and the recipe will lead you to that.

If you have a process you can choose whatever ingredients you like and get different and maybe more exciting results.

So let us say you usually pick a photo and paint it like you see it. This is how you do things. Your subject will give you ideas about the support you paint on, the colors and tools you use.

You could start the other way around and pick a wood plate, sand paper, a squeegee and just three colors and look what you can with it.

I am always curious about other processes and try to experiment a lot. I think recipes and art do not go together very well.