Monday, September 10, 2007

Painting a Mini-Series

Doing a full series can take a great deal of energy and time. By "series," I mean several paintings -- say, six or more -- that deal with a particular theme. The idea is that you keep all variables the same. This includes the choice of pigments, the dimensions of the canvas, the method of applying pigment, and, of course, the subject. This forces you to focus on developing your vision and not on your tools. You can really grow as an artist this way.

However, sometimes you just don't have the energy or time. When this happens to me, I limit my series to just a couple of paintings. I call this a "mini-series." It's useful in a limited way, but if you do lots of them over time, they can help you grow, too.

Here's a mini-series I did last week. I wanted to paint lonely fir trees. A single fir tree at an overlook sounds like an insignificant subject, but I found working on these two paintings enlightening. The work helped me learn more about the way these trees grow and occupy their corner of the world.

"Herring Cove Fir," 8x10, oil, en plein air

"Ragged Point Fir," 8x10, oil, en plein air

By the way, my approach to doing a series is just one. You can be creative about your series. Perhaps you might choose to vary just one factor. In this case, for example, I might have chosen to paint not different trees but the same tree, but using a different format, medium or palette.

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