Painting a Series

Painting a Series

When I began my painting life I had no idea what it meant to paint in a series, and it took many years before I was introduced to the idea. Once I began to embrace the concept, my painting skills quickly began to improve. What does it mean to paint a series? Painting a series is simply painting multiple paintings, one after another, around a common theme. The theme could be color related, composition related, subject matter related, approach related or location related.

I paint 98% of my paintings as part of a series of paintings. Occasionally the series are organized around a compositional theme, but nearly all of mine are organized around a color theme or idea that I want to investigate in multiple pieces. The paintings can be different sizes and dimensions, or all the same - they just need to be held together with a common  thread that you wish to investigate. You can paint as many or as few as you like (sometimes I stop after the second painting!). I stop when I have taken the colors as far as I want and I am ready to move on to a new series.

One of the things I really love about painting in a series is that I revisit my favorite ones again and again. There is often time that passes between the end of the last one and the beginning of the next one - sometimes years! I love to see, as time passes and my work evolves a bit, how I approach the series after a layoff. My viewpoint is always different, so my response to the theme of the series changes and evolves. Another thing that interests me is to see which series sell the best. There are some series that I sell a painting everytime I finish it, and then some that I have never sold a painting from. It should go without saying that the ones I don't sell from don't get revisited!

There are a couple of obvious advantages to working in a series. The first is that you don't have to come up with something to paint when you get to the studio because the series is there waiting for you. The second is that the series, because it is organized around a common theme, makes a great exhibition. The paintings already have common colors, compositions or subject matter so they go together and show beautifully as a group. Sometimes it is an advantage if you are trying to sell a venue on a exhibition idea for your work.

All the professional artists that I know work in series. This is one thing (of many) that separates the professional from the hobbyist. Working in a series is a great way to kick your painting up a notch, and will help improve your painting skills. Give it a try, I know it will work for you!

We talk about painting a series and so many more topics that will make you ab better painter in my Bigger, Faster, Fresher, Looser Workshops, so please join me for a workshop or join one of my online courses.