Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Creating a Series

This spring, I accepted the challenge of making a series of art pieces as part of an online class, "Y is for Yellow!" with Carla Sonheim.

What makes several pieces of art hang together as a series? I suppose it would be that they were created on the same substrate, using the same art supplies, spanning similar subject matter, maybe with similar color treatment? This was a first time endeavor. What did I know about it?

I set the following parameters for the series:
   1. Pieces would be on same size wood panels
   2. They would all start out with collage
   3. I would work from live subjects, not photographs
   4. Medium of choice: acrylic paint

The first step was to prepare the panels with collage elements and set them to dry overnight. When I went searching for my subjects, I was delighted to find an arrangement with bright orange ranunculus at a local grocery store, and a potted gerber daisy.

At this point, I decided the collages needed more unifying, so I swiped them irregularly with a sage green and off white house paint. I was careful to allow attractive collage elements to show through the paint. Then I set about sketching the composition, and bringing the flowers to life.

The first two paintings settled in nicely. As finishing elements, and another unifying technique, I added subtle bits of color through stencils, and sketched over the top with a charcoal pencil to add details.

This is my favorite part of the whole first two paintings:

A week went by, and I went in search of more subjects. Oh my gosh, I found the most spectacular peonies! (At this time, it would be a good month or more before peonies would bloom in my yard).

I knew it would be a challenge to capture their beauty. See all those petals? I reminded myself that one of the reasons I was working from LIVE subjects was to see the light and shadows, and all the wonderful textures that cannot be captured in a snapshot reference. And here was the challenge: during the time I was working in my studio, the peonies kept opening up...... larger. And LARGER. What were once buds opened to full fledged blooms. As I painted I had to be more creative to depict these ever-changing glories.

But you know what was an even bigger challenge? The dang Irises. My fourth and final subject was a real scoundrel. Those flowers are very, very difficult to capture a likeness of. However, when I shared my work on social media, as I often do while working in the studio, the Irises garnered the most attention. Go figure.

The series is displayed in my studio for now, as I decide if I will have them framed or simply hang and enjoy. My first reaction to them all arranged in a group was that I wasn't sure they worked as a 'series' because of the difference color, which was a little jarring. Some bold and bright, some muted and pastel. I suppose I could have taken artistic license and painted them in a color scheme that was more cohesive. But for my first effort creating a series, I was happy in the end that I stayed true to the natural beauty of the flowers.

Each time I paint I learn new things. I hope I never stop learning; never stop being filled with wonder of the process, of the experiences.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Carla! Now I need to catch up with class....