There has always been much made about the subject of a painting. Some subjects always attract the ire of judges and critics. This seems lazy to me; I think a painting should be judged on its emotional and technical merits regardless of the subject chosen by the artist.
Subject has always been secondary for me. It is just a vehicle for my expression of something more intangible. Even in portrait or figure painting it is more about the abstract qualities and the facility of the paint handling for me than the person or people in the image. Getting a likeness is more than just measuring.
It is the arrangement of color and value and shape that makes beauty not the subject. I am after the light in a scene or the assortment of colors a season has mixed up and presented to me. It is not so much a place as it is the underlying qualities that make that place interesting at a particular time of day or season combined with my emotional response. In my opinion it is these things that make an image timeless and it is their expression I am looking for when I paint.