Archive for July, 2014

Maintaining a Continuous Body of Work

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

It’s one thing to keep my work consistent, another to make it cohesive, and yet another challenge to maintain a continuous flow of new work.

At the beginning of this year, I decided to aim for completing 100 paintings, measuring 10″x14″ or larger, by the end of the year. Half way through the year, how close have I come to meeting my goal of half that many pieces? If you’ve been following my progress on Facebook, you’ll know that I remained pretty close to target through the first several months. A month of travel in May to gather photographic reference material, and another couple weeks in June, threw me off track because of the difficulty of carrying larger paper or canvases along. But I’ve tried to get back into the flow since then to make up for lost time.

140412w-camera

The key to my maintaining a continuous flow of new work is to be continually returning to the task. As soon as one painting is complete, I photograph it, critique it, revise it as needed, and then re-photograph it.

Why do I shoot it twice? Because I can often see in photographs problems that I hadn’t recognized in the original. Sometimes it’s a problem with composition, a matter of value, or some element that doesn’t work quite right. The photograph helps me identify any weaknesses more easily. It may be for as simple a reason as taking me out of the “painter” mode and allowing me to see through the more objective eye of an observer.

I often begin thinking about the next painting as soon as the first photograph has been taken. Is it a subject I want to explore further? Or is it time to find a different subject?

I keep idea files both on my computer and in a physical folder. A case of photographs often provides further inspiration if items around the house don’t suggest a still life. There’s no excuse for a shortfall of ideas to keep the artwork flowing.

Developing a Cohesive Body of Work

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

In order to create a cohesive body of work, there should be a certain commonality to all the paintings. A thread of similarity should run through them to tie them together as a group—whether through theme, subject, color palette, or some other unifying factor.

140512w A Break in the Clouds,

I find it easiest to maintain this thread if I plan a series based on the same general subject matter. That unifying factor may be as broad as a geographical region, a repeated shape, natural scenery, either specific or general subject matter, or a recognizable time of day. Or it may be as narrow as the same subject from a variety of angles, under varied lighting conditions, or at various stages of maturity. Or the thread can be less obvious than that, appearing, perhaps, as a repeated theme, such as education, relocation, relationships, or some universally recognizable human condition.

In the past, I have found that after painting only two or three pieces in what I had intended to become a series, I have become diverted from that focus and have begun working in some other realm, often on a different theme entirely. That tendency was not conducive to developing a cohesive collection. So, aside from one-shot paintings, not intended to be part of a series, I’m challenging myself to complete series of at least five paintings before changing gears to pursue a different theme.

I have begun a new gallery page called Recent Series Work. For the next few months, it will display my Irish Series, which I began this summer. The paintings, like “Break in the Clouds” (#140512w), above, are images inspired by a tour my husband and I made recently on the Emerald Isle. I expect to be adding more images to it in the coming weeks. I hope you will take time to browse through the gallery. The series page will be changed from time to time to reflect the changes in series themes. I invite your feedback, both on this series and on forthcoming ones.