Working on a series of paintings of the same subject or idea (or both) is a great way to build a body of work suitable for exhibition. It ensures a cohesive visual statement is made while conveying a message or idea that is important to you as an artist.
For example, in my series of recent flower paintings, I was exploring the following ideas:
- Using the background as an integral part of the subject, really trying to meld the two together so that is almost indistinguishable where one ends and the other begins.
- Working with positive and negative space and forms to achieve the above.
- Organizing a lot of information into an abstract design and making it not appear overwhelming to the viewer.
Throughout the process, I would look at the works done to date as I completed them both on their own as well as with the others in the series. This step is important because it will really tell you if the work holds together as a series or not. For example, there are some pieces I painted that have too formal of an arrangement to work with the others that are more abstract. I found that including elements other than just the flowers make it harder to achieve an abstract look, but not impossible. I also discovered that working large in watercolor presents challenges that are probably unique to each artist–in my case, my impatience and lack of attention span make staying with the piece to the end a bit difficult, but not insurmountable.
So, the next time you are working on a series, be sure to consider the whole as well as the individual. Critique your paintings as stand alone works as well as members of the series. Do this as you complete each piece and your series will be sure to stay on track with your visual message.