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One-Track-Minded Artist

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George Rodrigue and his Blue Dogs.

Raz: So why don't you just finish the painting and go home?
Edgar: Why don't I... [struggles with the brush before applying paint to the canvas]
Raz: Wow. See? Sometimes you just have to... you painted a bullfight over the doctor's face. Why a bullfight? Huh? Edgar, why do you—
Edgar: EVERY TIME! Every time it's the same! The matador! The bull! How I despise you both! But my hands... my hands won't let you go. [throws away and replaces the canvas] That is why I am here, chained more ways than you can see.
Raz: A prisoner of art.
Edgar: A prisoner of art.

When trying to create something, anything, being inspired is the first step. With a good idea in mind, it becomes much easier to make that art a reality. However, for some, finding inspiration isn't necessary, because they already know what they'll make.

They know, because they've made it before, and they'll make it again, and they'll keep on making it.

The subject and medium can vary wildly, as it all depends on the person behind these creations. Maybe Alice is obsessed with painting pictures of bats, and so she fills up her studio with nothing but. Maybe Bob can't stop drawing flowers, even after he's run through every flower species he knows of. Maybe Charlie only takes photos of his dog, and refuses to waste camera-roll space on anything else.

What can also vary is the reason behind the obsession. The easiest explanation is that the artist just has an extreme interest in one thing and a lack of interest in anything else. The darker explanations can be as mundane as mental illness to being outright supernatural in origin; this is especially likely when the character in question isn't even an artist, but is just compelled to repeatedly create similar works after an encounter with the unknown. Another reason could be Author Appeal.


For extra fun, this can be played in two ways. When Played for Laughs, the obsession will be downright silly, and it'll just be a funny quirk. Played for Drama, and the situation can be almost a look into the character's psyche, or the symptom of a much larger, much darker obsession, bordering on or outright being Played for Horror.

To see if someone fits, common signs to look out for are that the artist's room, studio, or what-have-you is filled with art of this particular subject, in-universe acknowledgement about the obsession, or even a scene of just watching them create similar works over and over again. A person who just happens to specialize in one specific field, like a carpenter who only makes chairs, doesn't fit unless it's clear their field is based on an obsession.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Honey and Clover: Being shy and raised in a sheltered environment, Hagu learned art by drawing sketches of her porch everyday up until her grandmother's death.
  • Played for Laughs in Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid. After spending all of chapter 60 trying to find a new hobby, Tohru decides to funnel her obsession with Kobayashi into making various works of art including paintings, sculptures, and music (much to the annoyance of Kanna and Ilulu).

    Comic Books 
  • Rising Stars has a variation; as children, the Pederson Specials were all given an assignment to draw a picture of their earliest memory. Every single one of them drew a picture of the Mass Empowering Event that gave them all superpowers, despite the fact that none of them were even conceived that night.

    Films— Animated 
  • In Brave, there is a witch who doubles as a wood carver. Both her carvings and her spells seem to always involve bears.
  • In Fantastic Mr. Fox, all of Mrs. Fox's paintings involve stormy weather (usually lightning, but in one instance a tornado).
  • In Tangled, all of Rapunzel's paintings have the sun on them somewhere. This could have something to do with either the lanterns that get sent up on her birthday, the fact that she was the lost princess of a kingdom who use a sun as their symbol, the fact that her powers come from a flower that was powered with "a drop of sun", or a combination.

    Films— Live Action 
  • 50 First Dates: Lucy is an artist whose ability to create new memories was damaged in a terrible accident — with her anterograde amnesia, she wakes up every day believing it's Sunday, October 13th. After she and Henry try to make a relationship comprised only of first dates work out, Lucy breaks up with Henry so he can pursue his career and her family decides it's for the best that she lives in a care facility for adults with brain injuries and memory issues. Henry visits Lucy in the facility, and while she admits she doesn't know him she shows him her studio, which is full of paintings of Henry. He appears in her dreams despite her amnesia, and she continues to paint him again and again.
  • In Canadian Bacon, an anti-Canadian report displays the CN Tower causing Officer Honey to become obsessed with it. When Kabral visits her, she's created several recreations of it.
  • Dead Again: Once the amnesiac Grace's real identity is found out, she is returned to her apartment — which is full of drawings, paintings, and sculptures of scissors from her recurring nightmares. When the villain of the film charges at Grace and Mike with the intent to kill them, he is impaled on one of Grace's scissor-nightmare sculptures. Overlaps with My Art, My Memory, in that "Grace" is the reincarnation of a man named Roman, Mike is the reincarnation of Roman's wife Margaret, and the villain is the same boy who stabbed Margaret to death with a pair of scissors 40 years prior. Grace's nightmares stem from past-life memories of the event as Roman finding his wife dead next to a pair of scissors.
  • In Wine Country, Jade's art is all paintings of Fran Drescher in The Nanny. The main characters are confused by it, but the other guests at the art show (Californian hipsters) appear to consider it high art.
    Jade: It's really a lettera d'amore to The Nanny. But, more importantly, it's a reaction to all of our experiences surrounding The Nanny.
  • In Superbad, Seth has an obsession with drawing penises. Penises with blades and spikes, penises dressed as clowns, penises melting like Dali art, penises on cars and on fire... the art is of a pretty good quality, mind, but understandably his parents and art teacher find it pretty disturbing and Seth starts the film being forced to go to therapy. He is also not on speaking terms with a former childhood sweetheart because he believes she is he one who told his parents about his art.

  • The Magic Book of Spells: All of Dirhhenia Butterfly's drawings are of circles, balls, and other round things. She even drew balls on the walls of Castle Butterfly. This is one of the reasons why she was deemed unfit to be Queen of Mewni.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Girl Meets World: To everyone else's irritation, Riley only likes to make paintings of purple cats, as discussed in "Girl Meets Creativity". Cory even tells her that if she puts one more purple-cat-painting on the fridge, he's "moving to Brooklyn".
  • Midsomer Murders: In "Picture of Innocence", one of the photographers entire body of work consists of photographs of every meal he has eaten. When Joyce comments on how similar all of his photos are, he says that he has eaten the same meal every day for more than a decade.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place: When Alex first meets Mason, she discovers that the only subject he is interested in painting are dogs, to the point where he wants to paint Alex as a dog. She uses magic to make her his inspiration instead, and he becomes completely obsessed with making art of her and only her, to where it's all he can do.
  • The Fast Show: Johnny Nice Painter combines this with Madness Mantra: while he's perfectly able to paint other things, any mention of the word "black" in his presense causes him to start smearing black paint over everything he's painted up until that point while rambling incoherrently about negative things.

    Video Games 
  • In Psychonauts, velvet painter Edgar Teglee suffers from an Ambiguous Disorder that gives him a Hair-Trigger Temper and an odd obsession in painting bulls and bullfighters and nothing else. He is assigned by his "psychiatrist" Dr. Loboto to paint his portrait as a part of his treatment, but every time he tries, his psychosis gets in the way, leaving him literally chained to the floor of the abandoned asylum. When Raz uses Sasha's mind-portal to enter his mind (portrayed as a Mexican villa painted on black velvet), he discovers on the surface that it involves his wife Lampita getting seduced by the bullfighter Dingo and ultimately leaving Edgar to be with him. Edgar was devastated by this and was driven mad with heartbreak, painting nothing but bullfights to symbolize his anguish. Or at least, that's the romanticized version, as what really happened was that his high school girlfriend was stolen away by a male cheerleader, breaking his fighting spirit and causing his friends on the wrestling team to abandon him, leaving him nowhere else to turn but the art lab.
  • The Sculptor in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is constantly carving out wooden statues of Buddha. Moreover, the statues always look furious, regardless of his intent.

    Web Video 
  • The Cry of Mann: At the start of the series, Jack is only interested in making paintings of trains. His studio is filled with paintings he'd already finished, and he is seen attempting to make even more, telling a caller that his paintings have to look like trains. However, he later begins to paint orange phones instead, filling his art exhibition with nothing but art of phones.
  • Marble Hornets: As part of his Operator obsession, Alex spent a ton of time drawing nothing but Operator symbols, paper after paper, over and over again.

    Western Animation 
  • Bob's Burgers: When Linda's sister Gayle was introduced in "Art Crawl", she was an aspiring artist whose paintings were all of animal butts.
  • Squidward Tentacles from Spongebob Squarepants always makes paintings and sculptures based on himself.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Insane Clown Poppy", its revealed that, during the Gulf War, Krusty prevented a solider's attempted assassination of Saddam Hussein to keep his act fresh. Years later, when Krusty meets the daughter they illegitimately conceived, he finds her apartment full of paintings depicting clowns getting murdered.
    • In "Half-Decent Proposal", Artie Ziff has a room filled with paintings about Marge, with whom he tried to get it on with at the prom many years ago.
      Artie: A note from Marge Simpson? Well, isn't that a coincidence. I was just thinking about her... for the last 20 years!
    • "Brush With Greatness" reveals that Marge used to be a painter but only did portraits of Ringo Starr because she had a crush on him at the time. When an art teacher criticized her for this, she was so upset she quit painting for good.
  • Steven Universe: Vidalia's gallery consists mostly of portraits of Amethyst, which she kept making even years after they'd last met, largely because Vidalia considers Amethyst her biggest inspiration. Reuniting with Amethyst seems to have gotten Vidalia to do other things, as she's later shown making a portrait of her husband then of Garnet and Steven.
  • Fillmore!: One pretentious character in "To Mar a Stall" remarks, when busted, "Yes! I draw toilets. Beautiful toilets. The perfect marriage of form and function, of style and substance, of water and porcelain."

    Real Life 
  • According to Arnold Drake, Bob Kane spent his later years completely obsessed with painting pictures of clowns, and was convinced that these paintings were going to make him even more famous than Batman.
  • In his later years, and due to an eye surgery that supposedly gave him ultraviolet vision, Impressionist painter Claude Monet painted subjects consisting mostly of waterlilies that show vibrant colors.
  • Louisiana artist George Rodrigue based the vast majority (but not quite all) of his paintings around a blue spaniel terrier dog with piercing yellow eyes, inspired by his own pet dog, Tiffany. The dog gained a much wider recognition after being featured in a 1992 ad campaign for Absolut vodka.


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