One of the things I think about often is the notion , we used to call it the theme of the work but now it seems to be more about the artist's passion or starting exploration point. I see this as the artist's reason why we should look, think about or even appreciate the work.
I also think this comes from having to defend you work to other artists. To analyze your work for an academic grade , which is also teaching you about art, and to make the lay person think it is important even if the work doesn't engage her as a viewer, or more simply to explain the work that seems incomprehensible.
I have trouble with this kind of thinking because I don't plan my work to start with. It just begins to happen and I follow it where it leads me. So I have taken to thinking about this after it is complete, or nearly complete. Thus the whole way of approaching a place to show your work, to be able to explain it enough or in the best light to intrigue a panel of judges, or convince a gallery to take it on is, a talent I have yet to cultivate.
A few years ago I did some pieces that were simply stitched lines in various thicknesses with various threads. I just really liked them they were fun to do and I thought them rather minimalistic. But to enter them into a possible gallery show I came up with the thought that they were an exploration of line. One piece I framed and had it ready as an example of my style of work. It wasn't accepted but that can be because of many reasons and I never think it means the work is not good!
I did another two pieces that I though might make up part of a series , but they didn't really tell me that they were done.
In the last few weeks I've been combining these two with some of my small bits hand sewed last summer that have been waiting for a home. And once again I like what is happening. It is still in progress, but thought it might be worth a look.