For representational painters, the three primary genres are Landscape, Still life, and Portraiture. These can be further modified to include figurative, interiors, and myriad other blends.
In my observations, it seems most artists stick to one or two genres as their specialty. The most successful gallery painters appear to have found a following based on the one genre they are most well known for. There are some artists alive today, and over history who transcend this, and have been successful in many genres, and sometimes many media. However, for most artists, I think this observation is valid.
There is sometimes a period of time in an artists career when friends, family, and acquaintances make up a large percentage of what they sell. The most successful artists break away from this at some point. Once that happens, the marketplace dictates over time what pieces collectors like from a particular artist. Some artists may see this as detrimental to their independent or freestyle creativity. However, in my opinion, I think this is great in most cases! If there is a certain genre of work people are collecting of a particular artist, I see this as great news for the artist. More than likely, the artist is most inspired and enjoys painting these works more than any other. This is most often always true of the artist’s best work. What can be better than getting this kind of encouragement from the marketplace? Encouragement saying to the artist – “go ahead and please keep making those paintings which inspire you most”! The artist needs only stay true to what most inspires them.