Creating A Series

Posted February 13, 2017 by Sandra C. Dovberg

I would like to expand on the blog “Crossing the Line” in which I was referring to paintings.  One of the positives about a series when painting is that it allows paint, solvents or sprays to dry.  An artist usually does not paint a painting in one sitting.  If so, it’s either a sketch or just the way that painter approaches his medium.  Most often artists paint in layers and often their layers are transparent or translucent which allows for mixing of colors and depth in a way that is different from mixing two opaque colors together before setting them on the substrate (canvas, board or paper). Therefore, working on more than one painting at a time is efficient and helps one focus.  One doesn’t get distracted and fall off course.

 A “Series” allows artists to explore and expand on an idea in any medium.  It gives them practice in their craftsmanship too.  I quite often use a series approach in my jewelry and art objects.  When I am faced with a “Challenge” which is often a monthly assignment for a painting or craft group I tend to do three pieces of jewelry or 3 paintings.  Sometimes, after the meeting, I continue the series.  I pick it up again later, maybe a year later, but it’s always hovering in the background.  Challenges or assignments are a great way to "Get Started" when you don't know what to do.

As an artist one learns that there are many paths to a finished product and none of them are wrong.  Why choose only one?  Why not explore many paths?  This is a series.  For young students art should be understood as a freedom to explore and take risks which is why art education is so important.  In math there is only one correct answer, but that is not true in art, and everyone needs to learn to take risks,  to fail and to try more than once.  A body of work is the result!  How many times does an artist paint a landscape or a bowl of flowers?

Some of the challenges that have lead me to a series in jewelry are:  Make a Container that Spins, make an Outrageous Container, make a Monolithic Form no bigger than my thumb, Expressions of Summertime, Variations on a T-Joint, Variations on a Circle, Take a tool that you use daily and make a Whimsical Interpretation of it or Use a Found Object.  Working in a series also allows you to get a number of pieces all to a certain step and then perform certain steps on all of them at the same time such as varnishing, matting and framing, or soldering, cleaning and polishing. To do them separately leads to inefficient use of time.

There is a difference between working in a series as a means of exploring, developing and learning as opposed to having a “line” that is repetitive and approaches mass production, mainly serving the purpose of making sales.  For me, art is about the creative process and constant improvement in skill level rather than making money.  Because what I do is geared to pleasing myself rather than to pander to public taste, if someone likes something enough to purchase it, they will be rewarded with owning a truly unique and original piece of art.