Why Do a Series?

Why Do a Series?

Whether we real­ize it or not, most artists end up cre­at­ing a series. After all, any cre­ative per­son in any art form will tell you that we keep revis­it­ing the same sub­ject mat­ter over and over. Some­thing pulls at us. We may not know why, but we find our­selves unable to resist the pull, because we want to under­stand, or con­quer, or sim­ply immerse our­selves in the mys­tery that eludes us. We can do it uncon­scious­ly, and drift, or we can do it with inten­tion, and learn and grow in ways we nev­er imag­ined pos­si­ble. A series is a way to do it with inten­tion.

What is a series? Per­haps the most well known are Monet’s depic­tions of haystacks and the Rouen Cathe­dral, which he paint­ed over and over in dif­fer­ent light, dif­fer­ent sea­sons, and dif­fer­ent weath­er con­di­tions. Or Warhol’s soup cans and celebri­ty silkscreen por­traits. Then there are the less­er known, but still extreme­ly impor­tant, series such as Joan Mitchell’s lumi­nous and lyri­cal Grande Val­lée paint­ings. No mat­ter how dif­fer­ent the sub­ject mat­ter or style, a series gives an artist a chance to cre­ate a unique, cohe­sive, dis­tinc­tive body of work. A series allows an artist to find out who she or he real­ly is, and to say, through her or his work, “This is what I stand for, unabashed­ly.”

Now, many artists, espe­cial­ly in the begin­ning, tend to have a catch as catch can approach. It’s total­ly understandable–there’s so much to explore! But when we, as artists, grow, we begin to real­ize that to go deep­er is to find more mean­ing and to dis­cov­er more of who we real­ly are. And, as impor­tant­ly, we begin to under­stand that those who view our work need to have some­thing to hang onto if they’re to con­nect with us. We get to know and under­stand our­selves, our view­ers get to do the same, and in the process, they per­haps get to tap into parts of their own expe­ri­ence to under­stand them­selves bet­ter as well.

Late­ly, I’ve been work­ing on two series: Cape Ned­dick (the fea­tured image you see on this page is from that series) and In the Gar­den Deep. They are dif­fer­ent, and they came about for dif­fer­ent rea­sons, but they are both help­ing me immerse and go deep. I’ll talk about each in dif­fer­ent blog posts, but for now, I encour­age all emerg­ing artists who may read my blog to explore a series, whether it’s a sub­ject you’re fas­ci­nat­ed by, a philo­soph­i­cal approach to art, a relat­ed theme, or any­thing that’s pulling you. It will help your view­ers appre­ci­ate your work and be moved by what you have to say. It will make you a bet­ter artist, I promise.

By |2017-03-02T20:20:57+00:00August 4th, 2016|Artist Tips, Musings on Painting, The Artist's Life|0 Comments

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