After reviewing and discussing some of my thought process/thumbnails yesterday in class I was really happy to see some of you going through - and appreciating - the paintings that students have done in the past.
That's rad. I'm happy some of those are appealing.
So I have a few additional thoughts.
First, remember that you can do a "collage" - be it old school cutting and pasting photos together or new school digital style in photoshop or procreate. I'm happy either way.
Second, not everything has to be "deeply personal".
Yes, you need to address the topic (memory), and be able to back up your decisions. I would go a step further and say that your focal point needs to be what addresses the theme.
However, sometimes you need seemingly random items that help balance and unify your painting. You could even use those seemingly random items to help create a series if you have used certain subjects often in the past (as I have with sloths or donuts, for example).
Next, really (really!) think about composition.
It can be silly and fun and all sorts of other things in terms of the content, but as you are creating your own composition, think about focal point and rule of thirds and depth and overlapping and having variety of sizes and...all that stuff we have been trying to give you practice with since the tempera painting first semester of Art 1.
Subsequently, yes, you should be considering value, texture, etc. Those are all part of the Elements of Art and Principles of Design that you should be more than just intuitively aware of.
Finally, have fun!
There does need to be a personal connection with this, and you need to be able to verbally articulate your decisions and why you have made those decisions. "Because I like..." is NOT going to be a good way to start any of your explanations, so be aware of that.
With that said, though, you can still have fun, so let yourself enjoy the process!