Working in Series

Today’s post written by Mary Elizabeth O’Toole

Have you ever finished an art project and realized that you would like to investigate a different angle, use another colour combination or apply new techniques?

All of these reflections are good reasons to create a series  – a group of pieces based around one or more common elements.

The connection of the pieces might be a broad theme, a technique, a design element, or a specific subject.   Working in series is a wonderful way to revisit a subject or idea and approach it with a new perspective or technique while creating a cohesive body of work.

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Advantages of developing a series

Working in a series can:

  • Offer opportunity to develop some expertise while you explore a theme, concept, technique or subject
  • Enhance learning through application of skills and knowledge
  • Let you explore multiple variations
  • Help fight creative block by providing parameters to start a new project or move through challenges
  • Reduce pressure of perfection through awareness that there will be other opportunities to revisit the same inspiration.

Creating art in a series encourages you to work within a set of defined parameters to express different emotions, views or details, a process that can be both challenging and inspiring.  Like individual songs in a musical, each component can tell its own story but also form part of a larger more comprehensive collection that together has greater impact.

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Tips for working in series:

  • Define your focus. Choose a broad theme, a particular subject, a technique or any connecting elements.  Be clear with your parameters as these will provide guidelines for keeping you on track with your project.
  • Consider format. Will you do all the same size and shape, or do you prefer to be flexible.  What media will you use?
  • Give some thought to time.  Will you choose to do a project a week or a month – or when the spirit moves?  Do you want to set the total number of works?  Perhaps you prefer to work on several series at a time, or to take a break then return to old favourites.

A series might be a number of quick projects before you move on to the next theme or it might be a lifetime passion.  It might take some effort to get into multiple projects on a theme but stay with it to give yourself time to explore.  On the other hand, if you have tried and failed to be inspired by your chosen theme or subject, it might be time to move on to another option.   Maybe you will want to revisit a theme again in the future.

You can, of course, start a series at any time and choose to stick with it for any length of time, or number of works or until you run out of inspiration.  However, the beginning of a new year is a favourite time to take on such a challenge.  This year, I have decided to do a 52 week series to help develop art quilting skills.

Week 1: Set Parameters, Prepare series

I spent the first week playing with ideas for themes and thought that I was decided but at the last minute to go with perhaps an obvious subject and use Cats as a focus.  After all, I now have three somewhat willing models in the house.  I am aiming for one project a week and plan to work in 12017_challenge10” x 10” blocks, though am considering combining some to make larger images.  I think for me a 10” square is small enough that I can finish quickly, large enough to have some design space.  I like working in the square format because it feels like it offers more flexibility.

Here is the start of my first block – title in free motion quilting.

Week 2: Free Motion Quilting – line drawing.

Join me and challenge yourself to a new or continuing series.

Share your topic and your progress with us in the comment section.

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