Palm Trees. I never tire of them. There are so many different varieties. Tall & thin. Short and stocky. With coconuts. Without coconuts. I especially love to stand directly underneath and photograph up into the canopy. Although I just returned from a trip to Florida, it was not my intention to write about palm trees. But this week proved to be all about the trees that I find so intriguing. I have previously painted a series of pastel paintings, two of which were coconut palm trees. Each of these pieces received special recognition this week - one has been accepted to the American Artist Professional League 88th Grand National Exhibition, and the other was featured on the blog of Alyson Stanfield, Art Biz Coach. Of course since I was visiting, what is for me the palm tree state, I took even more photographs for possible continuation of the series.
Which brings me to the topic of today’s post - working in a series. Why do artists paint in series? At one time, I thought I might become bored painting the same subject repeatedly. As referenced in last week’s post about my journey into abstraction, sometimes a series just happens. What you have to say visually just isn’t complete after one piece. So you paint another one. Or two. Or three. Or more.
Painting in a series allows the artist to develop an in depth study of a particular subject. For my Coconut Palm series, my focus was not so much about the palm trees themselves. It was about the light. To be specific, the sunlight and shadows on the spherical form of the coconuts. Third in that series was a painting of citrus fruit, also focusing on the light as it fell upon the round fruit.
A series of works provides the artist the opportunity to solve a visual challenge in various ways over time. Visual and technical skills are developed that can be called upon in future works.
A series can also encourage an artist to step out of a comfort zone and try something different. Wait, you might be thinking. How can painting a series of the same subject encourage creative difference? In painting the same subject repeatedly, an artist can reach a visual understanding of the subject. In reaching a level of ease in painting the subject, the artist can begin to try different color palettes, perhaps a different style, maybe even a totally different approach to push the boundaries of their creativity.
For me, a series is not planned. It begins with one piece. If the subject still excites me, or I have something more to communicate, then a series may be born. Or perhaps not. The great thing about being an artist is, the choice is mine.