A series of paintings is a really good way of organizing your mind and your art.
It gives you a plan, it gives you a chance to explore the subject past
just one painting. It gives you a good excuse to stop a painting at a reasonable place.
Many times, I’m having so much fun painting one painting, I don’t want to quit. This can lead to over-working a painting, which equals sentencing it to death. The viewer always has to have something to do to participate in a work, and if you have completed all the details, there is nothing for him/her to do. The last thing you paint is always the first thing the viewer sees, and if you paint past interesting, they see static and uninteresting. The last thing anyone wants on his/her wall is static and uninteresting. There has to be a personal connection for a collector to purchase art. Find out what the connection is, and build on it. Several years ago, I had a sophisticated collector tell me why they chose a particular piece of mine: “because it’s different and it will remain interesting for a long time.” This is important for something you have to live with every day, and a comment worth sharing and thinking about.
If you paint in a series, you have the confidence to try “different.” It’s abundant permission for the painter. It evolves as you go along, and you try different angles, perspectives, contexts, etc. Simply put, it gets better.
Another big advantage to painting a series is to give your viewer a limited number of choices. Choice is good, but too many choices become overwhelming. Think Starbucks, we self-limit ourselves in how many choices we can make. I don’t want to think about the thousands of things I’ll be missing if I make the wrong choice. I pick the one I know I like already.
It’s human nature to want a choice, but we don’t choose if given too many options, we delay all together. We artists don’t want that from a collector, we want them to happily and confidently choose and buy!
I recently completed a series of old trucks found along the roadside. While traveling for work, I had the opportunity to stop in little towns along the way and always found these compelling beauties. I realized that I wanted to do a series of them and started on the first one while having a plan for the second. It developed further as I went along. I might be
finished, or I might have more to go.
Taos Truck El Jebel Truck Salida Truck
A series doesn’t lock you in to just doing one subject, you can always take a break and paint something completely different. If you complete a series, it also might present well as a unified show. See if you can tell what I developed as I went along in this series of trucks, it was a learning opportunity for me as well. And fun. Which for me, is the point of painting. Everything else comes from that! Have fun! And keep on painting!