Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Concept of Painting in a Series

For over 15 years I have been told that it is very important that artists paint in a "series".  The series should have a goal.  The paintings within a series should be related to each other and visually connected. When an artist has exhausted all possibilities within the series, then they move on to a new series, never to return.  Although I've been pressed many times to declare that I work in a series, and I have even given names to various chronological periods of work ("Journey" and presently "Contemplation") I really don't see much division between the two.

What I do see when I review my work is growth over time and a whole bunch of "mini-series".  For instance, right now I'm in the middle of about 8 paintings where the subject is a begonia plant in bloom.  I've approached the concept using watercolor, gouache, acrylic inks and most recently poured watercolors.  I might do a collage.  Does this mean I'm in a "begonia" series?  I don't think so.  

In fact I don't think my brain or my artistic expression works that way.  I'm wondering if declaring a series and a goal confines me as an artist.  It's sort of a declaration that an artist will "stay in this box until I give up, run out of ideas or die..." Some people are comfortable with the concept, indeed several of my very good artist friends are painting in a series.  And several other wonderful artist friends are not painting in a series.

My most recent declared goal is to simplify my shapes and move away from rigid compositional forms, use shape and color with line and pattern more freely.  I think I'm accomplishing that.  And I think I will end the idea of declaring my work fits into a "series".  If I want to paint something that fits into Journey, I will.  If I want to paint something that fits into Contemplation, I will.  And if I want to paint something that doesn't fit anywhere, I will.


  1. Hi Sandra, I do feel that making public declarations about series and goals puts me in boxes that I immediately what to get out of. As you say, its personal. And, if I only want to do four, I'm good with that. And, if tomorrow I want to do something completely different, well that might be OK fine too. I watch for times when people tell me I "should" do something. Maybe I will, maybe I won't! Our paths got to work for us! Good article.

    1. Thank you, Peggy, that is exactly what I am struggling to express. I feel the declaration of a series just doesn't fit with me. It's definitely those "shoulds" that I need to watch out for.