Working in a series is one of the most important tools we artists have to nourish growth. Most times artists build series around a theme: river paintings, window paintings, still life with waxed paper, or cityscapes, just to name a few. Sometimes it's around a format, like all squares. The one thing that binds these ideas is that each painting in a series builds on the next painting. The process takes the artist down a path of discovery.
Series can just shout out to us, others whisper, some you have to find. My river series has been ongoing for many years. I love that river and have still not exhausted its possibilities.
Here are four ways to find your next series.
1. Line up your ten favorite paintings. Analyze them. What did you do in those ten that was so successful. Write it down and be ready to build on those ideas.
2. Choose a new format and stick to it. Do you want a more peaceful painting? Choose an elongated rectangle. Look at the Japanese woodcuts. Try diptych or more.
3. Find a new surface. If you normally work with a sanded paper try making your own surface. If you paint on smooth canvas try wood with a vibrant surface pattern. Take yourself out of your comfort zone.
4. Make an exploration of color. Limit your palette to certain color harmonies.Make many small studies (3x4) before moving into bigger work. take yourself out of your color rut.
When you have a series begun make certain to keep all of them out to view each day. Number them on the back. Look and grow with the previous work.
One of the most exciting and inspirational series I have seen is Marla Baggetta's Variations. Here is a link to the book she made about it. Wow!
The most important thing about a series is the fact that it drives you and you can't wait to get back to it.