“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” – Aristotle
I love this quote. Especially with respect to the process of working on a series of paintings together versus the process of working individual paintings. I am focusing this summer to work on series of paintings and I am pleasantly surprised by so many benefits to working on multiple paintings at once. Most of all the momentum of energy I get curating the pieces together and how quickly the ideas for the next piece come to fruition.
Before working on Series
In the past, I worked on paintings individually. When a painting is done I post it on my website or send it to group shows and move on to the next piece. Fortunately, the painting often found a home (via a sale) giving me resources to create new pieces. I think this is the way all artists start – it is energizing each time a sale is made. However, it is challenging because I do not have the painting with me to refer back to for the next piece to build on the style. When a successful painting has sold, it often becomes built up in my head of what it was, only putting pressure on the next painting as I have high expectations to meet the same level of quality.
The Opportunities of working in Series
There are so many valuable things I’ve learned working on 3 series this summer:
- Reference: Being able to refer back to the other pieces for reference
- Ideation: Have new ideas faster immediately knowing what will go with the set, rather than creating pieces that must stand on their own
- More Energy: Feeling energized seeing the work together
- Chance to Tweak: As the process develops with each painting, it is possible to go back to the previous piece to tweak it and review
- Reject what Isn’t Working: Discard the paintings that do not work out, each painting feels less precious so it is easier to focus on the stronger pieces and not dwell on the mistakes
- Experimentation: Willingness to experiment, because the paintings feel less precious when they have a family of work – an opportunity to see where the art goes. The first piece is potentially not the best piece in the set
- Resources: Saving on supplies, it is easier to invest in tools at paint a series and I don’t have to discard my palette with each painting
I find the toughest part is knowing when the series is ready to show as I get so excited seeing the work together and constantly adding. However if I start working on something new and don’t find myself going back to the previous set it is probably time to release that series. Limited storage space is a good reminder to release a set of paintings.
One of the series I have been working on is of Vancouver city-scapes on panel. These small panels allowed me to experiment on hard surface and work quickly. Sunday I am releasing a set of original paintings of Vancouver on my Etsy site. All panels are of city-scape scenes around downtown Vancouver. Normally I paint on paper, so it was so much fun experimenting with the brush sliding effortlessly on a gesso’d Masonite panel.
Here are a few images of the #VeryVancouver paintings. I’d love your feedback on this set in the comment section.
As a bonus… please check out my Instagram feed today/tomorrow as I am running a contest to win one of these pieces.
Have a great weekend,