Lately I’ve been painting exclusively in a series. What’s a series? Dictionary.com says “a group or a number of related or similar things, events, etc., arranged or occurring in temporal, spatial, or other order or succession;sequence.” Yep, that sounds about right.
Why would an artist want to work in a series? I’ve started working in a series this year for several reasons:
Work out New Ideas
Working in a series let’s me work out an idea in several different ways. My first set was the Window View Series. The inspiration was the beautiful fall colors I could see from all over my house but the idea was the concept of seeing the outside from the inside. I wanted the bars of the window panes to be obvious and I wanted to see it in different ways. Sometimes you can work out these ideas in a sketchbook but when several seem to work, paint them!
Push New Ideas Further
In my Sea Bound Series (below) I really departed from my usual loose realism into almost abstract. I was experimenting with adding different textures into the painting. As I progressed into the 2nd and 3rd painting, I even added some paper and then netting on the canvas and painted over them to exaggerate the texture even more. Pushing your ideas in a series allows you to keep some things similar (for me the relative composition and the color scheme) and see how the new ideas look as they progress.
Portfolio is more Cohesive
By creating paintings as groups of at least three, your portfolio looks more like a progression of ideas. While a good body of work can be created without a series, it is sometimes harder to relate the paintings and can look random. This is especially true if you like to explore new subjects, media or techniques. For me, learning and discovery are as much a part of my work as mastery is. This can come across as indecisive if you don’t have enough work with similarities. Working in a series creates cohesion immediately, especially if you take an idea from one set and explore it in the next set. Suddenly you have six paintings that have a cohesive look.
Builds a New Body of Work Faster
Starting at the end of last year and definitely as I paint into this year, my artwork has a different look than my previous work. I still love my older work and there are still a lot of similarities between it and my newer work (texture, color vividness, subject choice, etc). But my newer work is definitely different. Since I’m in a new location and working towards getting my art into local shows and galleries, I want enough paintings in this new body of work to submit at once. If I had to submit ten and three were from this year and seven were from the past two to three years, it would look different. By working in a series, I’m often working on all three paintings at the same time which increases the size of this new body of work much faster.
Varies the Price Points
I’ve had paintings in the past that were a part of a diptych that sold separately. I’ve also had a series of three sell together with a commission for a fourth to go with them! I always offer individual prices for the paintings but when they are obviously a set and complement each other (as a diptych, triptych or a series), I offer a bundle price at a discount. I figure it is always better to sell two or three (or four!) paintings at once and it may entice someone who is on the fence. Plus, the thought of my paintings hanging together like I intended them to be seen is worth slightly less money to me.