Painting a series can mean several things.
The basis is a central theme to create a group of work. It can relate to a season of the year, a much-loved subject, color or emotion.
Whether it is as obvious as a group of cat portraits or as obscure as a philosophical concept expressed in paint, there is a theme.
Choose Your Weapon
The first item on the agenda is selecting the main theme of the series. If painting in series is a new experience, choose something with which you are knowledgeable, comfortable and have access to ample resource material. Do not select an esoteric topic of inquiry that will end up becoming an exercise in frustration. Save that for later, when experience and technical proficiency make painting the least of the challenges. It is also of importance to choose something you love. If one considers painting a theme numerous times, it only makes sense to paint something that brings enjoyment. When the painting becomes an onerous task, it is time to change direction.
Know Your Enemy
Regardless of an artist’s current knowledge, there is always more to learn about a subject. Painting a series requires that the artist pursue the theme from multiple angles. Intimate understanding of a topic frees the student to view it from points that may only be seen with a wide diversity of information. Learn how an item is made and what goes into it. Learn the legacy of a place and its importance in history. View the subject in its natural habitat and observe how it grows, thrives and dies. The more the artist knows, the more he can convey to his audience. Research is crucial to a portraying a well-rounded theme. Being knowledgeable about a theme will show in the work the artist produces.
Focus On The Subject Matter
There is no limit to what the artist chooses as his series theme. Some are natural and easy for the artist to create a range of variations on the theme, while others are trying ordeals. Exploring types of themes can be an interesting look at one’s self as well as physical topics of subject matter.
Do not just grab the first thought that comes to mind. Make a list of potential themes and write out some thoughts on each subject. In writing down ideas, the artist is developing the scope of his work, perhaps listing the positive and negative aspects of the project. Doing some brainstorming before committing to a project is a sound idea that can save time and indecision in the end.
One way to approach a series could be portraying a story or series of events that follow a timeline. This could include a person, place or even an object.
Follow a person’s life with a series of paintings depicting the person over the expanse of his lifetime. This could include highlights of their life as part of the background or objects found within the paintings.
The history of a place might be shown through a time period, if it is of historical significance, or has enough local lore to back up the events depicted in the paintings.
Paint a recurring event over an era to point out how it changes and how it remains the same. The sameness or the diversity is accentuated, depending upon how the artist views the occasion.
Literary portrayals including illustrating books poetry, or comics are other avenues the artist may wish to pursue. The artist’s concept of a well-known children’s story, or working with an author writing a new work are other areas to pursue.
Color My World
Exploring color entails taking a color to its limits. The impact of light and dark to a color can be dramatic, and the artist should keep the subject as the constant around which the effects of lighting and shadows revolve.
Painting an outdoor scene at different times of day will show dramatic changes in the way colors interact. Painting a still life repeatedly with significant changes to the lighting will also change the timbre and tone of the work.
Another possible series is to examine the effects of the color when viewed with various adjacent colors.
Over And Over And Over Again
The repetition of a motif throughout a number of paintings is another way artists approach the series concept. Repetition is used in music, poetry, literature and dance to explore and enhance a concept, making greater impact on the audience.
Modernists may repeatedly use a geometric form, translating it to numerous interpretations. Any pleasing or preferred shape can be used as a basis for a theme, allowing the artist to explore color, design and composition.
The unity lies in the shape and its derivatives, which can be subtle or obvious.
What Does Sincerity Look Like?
Going into high gear and a lot of introspection, at some point an artist may decide to express an emotion or philosophical tenet through his painting. These projects may be lofty goals, but an interesting challenge for the committed student of art. This series is not for the lazy or faint of heart. It requires not only self-examination to set down a defined collection of thoughts, but also mandates hard work to put onto paper something that illustrates these thoughts.
This personal exploration may take many forms. If the student has strong feelings he wishes to portray in paint, he should sit down, pencil and paper in hand. Develop a plan through words and sketches to begin the quest. The particular manner in which the artist develops his thesis will take its own shape.
You Like Me, You Really Like Me
A series is a significant commitment that shows the artist’s audience they are serious about their craft. Coherence in subject or style are important in creating a body of work the public and critical art world can view as evidence of the artist’s professionalism.
A series can help to identify the artist’s work as a marketable commodity that is desirable to the collector. Although the artist paints for the love of the art, there is a business side to painting as well. Establishing oneself as a serious artist is a part of developing an identity and a body of work. Creating series of paintings can go a long way to help launch a career.
As a student becomes more self-confident with using the tools of his trade, he should consider a series as a means of strengthening his skills and exploring his artistic psyche. In addition, it is a great way to explore a new or a familiar subject from all angles.