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Thoughts on a series - 180 degree turn

"Series"....years ago while I was still working in technology, I took a course at ArtEast and the instructor recommended I select a subject (like a chair) and do a series of 20 paintings. Every inch of my body yelled NO!!!!! Between 2.5 hours of commuting every day to Bothell, and a long work day, I felt I had no time to paint the same thing over and over!

Instead of painting a series, I quit painting. It was too hard. I was depressed about the idea of doing the same thing repeatedly. (I like variety, remember?) Actually it felt like it would KILL me to paint the same subject even two or three times! I had so little time and so many ideas!

Fast forward a few years, I have a lot more time, and am really invested in improving my art. I've still got a gazillion ideas but am loving investigating different ways to paint as well as what to paint.

Now I love working on multiple paintings at the same time. Whether they are the same subject, or the same colors, or the same theme, it's just a lot more fun and freeing for me to work this way.

My goal is to be represented in a gallery next year. (Gulp, did I just say that out loud?) I've learned that galleries want not just a single painting, but a group of paintings that look great together, ie a "series" or "body of work". So my personal way of working is converging with my goal.


Art lives on constraint and dies of freedom.



I'm not constraining all my work to one type, but I have started practicing constraint, of size, color or materials.

These are beginning paintings on paper with a limited palette and lots of mark making. Experimenting with "happy" marks vs. "angry marks". And taking turns making marks and covering marks. (This is my messy home studio.)

And these starts are on 20x20 stretched canvas. My constraints are color scheme (lots of orange and blues), paint & collage, and theme of Civilization. I started working on the idea of lost civilization but finding that a little too constraining.

Here is the beginning layers on 6 canvases.

I added collage and paint in the same colors to all the canvases. I've discovered that working in layers gives lots of opportunity for experimentation and happy accidents. And no one layer is too important or precious. After many layers, the textures and invested energy build up to make a richer, more satisfying end result.

After initial layers of paint, collage and mark making, I started working with them one or two at a time. After many more layers, they are diverging into different stories, still keeping the overall ideas of oranges, blues, and civilization in mind. I'm not ready to call any of these complete, but I like where they are going.

So, after years of resistance, I'm a fan of "series" after all! With constraint comes freedom.

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