One really good way to work out what you want to paint is to think about what you don't like, both in subject matter and in style.
If it were possible for you to read every book written about, say, Rembrandt, it would not teach you to paint like Rembrandt. Anyway, the world does not need another Rembrandt. What we want is the new and unique eye you have as an artist. Just think how many artists, down the centuries, have painted a 'Madonna and Child.' Yet, each of them saw that subject in a different way. Each of the great artists treated it in a style unique to them.
One of the best ways to train your eye is to haunt the galleries. Not only the museums and public galleries, but also the private ones that show the work of living artists, acclaimed or as yet unknown. Seeing lots of art is the best way to discover how and what you, personally, do not want to paint. It helps define your own goals.
Private gallery staff can quickly spot the aspiring artist. ( One big give-away is to peer closely, studying the brushwork.) Some will ignore or disdain you, knowing the student is seldom a buyer. But many will treat your queries with kindly patience. Be grateful. And keep your ears open; you can learn a lot from these folk.
- A word of caution: don't talk yourself up to gallery folk. After all, you and your art are still unknown quantities. And words do not work. Any gallery director has met plenty of fellows who talked a great game but could not deliver the goods. Later - much later - when you are ready to show in a gallery, you will arrive with your portfolio. It speaks for you. Art is one area where 'bulldust' can't disguise incompetence.
(There is one field where 'bulldust' prevails. But we are talking here about the real world, not that of the modern Art Establishment.)
To sum up:
- Get organised - eliminate the time-wasters. Establish a place to work - your Studio.
- Set a regular time for painting - and stick to it.
- Learn all you can - from whatever sources.
- Train your eye - see a lot of art.
- Discover your own unique take on art.
A last word from me:
As long as you live, you'll remain a student. A real Master will tell you that he/she has only enough knowledge to realise how little is known, how much is still to be learned. It is humbling but exciting too. So please don't let it discourage you from starting, and continuing, this Journey. The best morale-booster I know is to realise that deleting prefix and suffix from the word Discouragement leaves you with Courage. And we all have that, waiting deep inside for when we need it.