Sur le motif


A French term meaning 'from the theme'. In fine art, it refers to an artist working directly from the subject of the artwork as opposed to working from a concept in one's head such as that which is 'heroic' or 'mythological'. In other words, the artist has the actual work in view. Sur-le-motif circumstances include being in the countryside painting a landscape, working from a still-life set up in a studio or painting a portrait from the model. Source: Jim Smyth and Brigitte Curt, 'the Real Meaning of our Favorite Art Terms', "Plein Air Magazine", May 2005; website of Galerie Plein Aire, Carmel, CA