Many years ago a teacher at an art workshop said to paint shapes and not things. That really bothered me because I wanted to say paint a tree not a shape. Over the years I have learned that if the various shapes are painted beautifully then the thing is beautiful and more so the reality of what you want the viewer to see. That is not to say that you do not at some time during the painting process think more and more of the thing you are wanting to paint. Below is an image where I enjoyed the creation of a shape that in the end was a tree trunk. The joy is in the shape of things.