A series is a set of individual artworks connected by a theme. A series can be short and immediate (all the monotypes made in a single day). Or it can unfold over a period of years. Either way, working in series is a way to go deep.
A handful of pieces from One-Hundred Flowers. When I work in series I’m working with ambition and thinking about scale.
The simplest way for an artist new to working in series to get going on one is to choose a single format – a single canvas size, or size and color of paper – and stick with it and see what happens. The more limits you set, the more interesting the results you get will be.
Learning the Rules
Every professional artist sets limits for their work whether the process is studied or intuitive. I start with an image in my mind’s eye and go through a process I call learning the rules where I teach myself how to make it through trial and error. Like a memory of a dream, the mind’s-eye-image morphs as I add details in an attempt to pin it down. That is OK. I am working to marry the imagined with the real and allowances on either side are fine and to be expected.
In the two images above I’m working with overlap and need to make a decision about what degree of overlap moves the image closer to the one in my mind’s eye or not. Or if overlap is even relevant. Once I understand something, it becomes a rule. Moving forward, I can adhere to rules or break them. But it’s important I understand them because they define the series while allowing for riffs and exploration. And they enable consistency.
Aesthetic limits are meaningful because they’re visible in the artwork itself while providing insight into the values and interests of the artist who made it.