Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Making A Mark Project - Working in a series

Wheatstacks (end of summer) 1890-91 - Claud Monet
Oil on canvas, 60 x 100 cm (23 5/8 x 39 3/8 in);

The Art Institute of Chicago
Working in a series - looking at the benefits of repetition and developing a series around one motif; picking up on Monet's series paintings and other artists who've developed major themes and painted the same motif several times. I'll be looking to feature artist bloggers during this project and hope to do some interviews.
Making A Mark in 2008 - The Plan
My work plan for 2008 indicates a project about working in a series during September and October. I've been looking forward to doing this one as it's a practice I ponder on quite a bit - and hopefully it's going to get quite a few people who read this blog thinking about 'working in a series' too.

To some extent I think this project will pick up on and reiterate aspects of art highlighted during the earlier projects about composition, colour and Japanese prints. I'm hoping that focusing on specific artists and specific series might make the different aspects appear more like a coherent whole.

In this particular post I'm going to highlight some of artists and the series paintings I'm hoping to cover in the next few weeks - although that might be a somewhat optimistic hope! It maybe that this is a project is a series of posts with an indefinite end.......... It'll naturally finish when I've nothing left to say.

Claude Monet

Monet is a really great painter of series and had a number of themes at different times. His primary interest was in the impact of light on colour underpinned them all. He tended to paint the same subject matter repeatedly, recording how its appearance changed with the time of day
Nypheas by Claude Monet
Musée Marmottan

I might try and have a go at following in his footsteps and drawing the two London bridges he painted - both of which are very familiar to me.

Edgar Degas:

Series paintings by Degas tend to feature people, who are very often women.
This aspect will mean I'll also finally try and finish my draft of the information site for Degas in my Resources for Art Lovers series.

Vincent Van Gogh -sunflowers. I've already added in a new section to the Vincent van Gogh - Resources for art Lovers site and will be looking to develop that further.

Andy Warhol - paintings, drawings and silkscreen prints
Venice: There are a number of places which exert a huge draw on artists and generate very many paintings over the years. One such place is Venice.

A lot of artists have found Venice particularly inspiring across centures - including Canaletto, Turner, Sargent and Whistler - I'll be trying to highlight just some of them as well as looking at more contemporary artists who paint Venice - such as Ken Howard

The Balcony from "Second Venice Set," 1879-80,
11 5/8 x 7 7/8 inches, etching
by James McNeill Whistler

I think this may well be an interesting way of examining how people can portray the same subject matter as a series and still produce something which is entirely unique to them. I'm hoping this might provide some more pointers about creativity of vision and style eg what are the main ways in which a painter differentiates their style when making a painting.

Other artists
I'm interested in:
  • learning more about other artists who have also painted in series (maybe Wayne Thiebaud and his cakes and pastries) - although this might just develop as a list for the time being.
  • learning about examples of bloggers who have painted in series (eg Duane Keiser and the eggs and the PB&J sandwich; Tracy Helgeson and her barns) . If you've painted a series this is you, please leave a comment below and identify your blog URL and the series you've undertaken
I'd be interested to know which artist and which series paintings sprang to mind for you when you saw this topic?

Art project - overall apprach
As with all my Making A Mark projects, I'll:
  • try to find a sensible structure to order information
  • learn as I go by generating links to websites providing more information
  • produce a blog post synopsis of the main learning points identified
  • make a record of what I've found in a permanent site - and a summary of the relevant blog posts. During the course of the project, I'll develop an information site called Working in Series - Resources for Art Lovers as well as adding in relevant information to already existing resource sites.
I'll let you know when the latter is published and you are very welcome to bookmark and/or link to it. If anybody has suggestions for good sites which might be included in it please do leave a comment below.

Similarly if anybody would like to join in with this project and maybe do some research of your own you are very welcome. Let me know by leaving a comment.

I've no idea at the moment where I'm going to start - any suggestions?


  1. Katherine, I much enjoyed your beginning of your "working in a series." It rang especially true to me as I am in the middle of a rooster series myself! I start as a gallery artist next month in Sarasota, FL and they want six roosters from me, based on the several I have on my website. The problem was that the ones on my site are with local galleries and one is sold, so to fullfil this request, I had to do six new roosters! I thought I'd be bored but guess what? I am doing eight more! Some more for the gallery and some more just to keep the series going, I am learning something new with each rooster collage I create! I have posted about the series today, it was on the "back burner" for the past week, but you motivated me to put it up there!! http://elizabethsthilairenelson.blogspot.com/

    Thanks for the motivation! Elizabeth

  2. Katherine -- we were just at the Pop Art show at the Crocker Museum on Saturday (it's in Sacramento). They have an outstanding collection of Wayne Thiebauds... the show revolved around Warhol and the sports series he did, which I'd never heard of but which fits with your theme perfectly.

    I'd also like to point you in the direction of Gainor Roberts' feelings series: http://gainor.blogspot.com/2008/07/finally-feeling-series-has-begun-again.html which has taken a huge toll on her over the years, emotionally, but which I think is unquestionably her best work...

    Looking forward to this October on Making a Mark!

  3. For me, the quintessential series (other than those by Monet) is Jennifer Bartlett's 'In the Garden,' a series of drawings and paintings she made of the view from a rented villa in France over the course of one year. I'm sure you're familiar with her. She's been a real inspiration to me. As for me, I'm going to keep working on my water series through 2009---it's endlessly compelling to me.

  4. Really looking forward to this series of posts.

    I've worked in a series for a long time. My longest running series, my Structures textile paintings, is at #99 - and was started in 2001. The work is all based on a fence/boundaries motif/theme.

    I find I have a hard time making work that is not part of a series.

  5. It seems that every artist does some kind of series - whatever subject is closest to their heart or best at picturing it.

  6. well, there is of course the long long series of seascapes - mainly based on Cornwall and Norfolk with a little Yorkshire thrown in :>)

    The coast is endlessly fascinating to me with it's changing light, mood and colour - and of course tide. On this recent visit to Cornwall we had vividly blue seas one day and cool jade and lavender on the overcast/rainy next day - so interesting to paint, then silver highlights and patches of light on another day - always changing.

    Tne there is a slow but ongoing series on the local waterways (rivers, canals, pools etc) and a transatlantic exchange of information and conversation with Lindsay who decided to do one on her local waterways :>)

    Local landscape, my cats .....

    I tend to mainly work in series with very few one-offs.


  7. This is an interesting idea, Katherine. I will look forward to seeing the results.
    I was inspired by Christopher Stott's still lifes with chairs, and I found a little antique chair that I bought with that idea in mind. I have six chair paintings so far. They are all in my July, Aug. and Sept. posts.

  8. I love the organization that you've given to this post - there's a lot of good thought that has gone into it! I was considering a series myself and, like your previous poster, you've motivated me to get it out there!

    Thanks! And I'll be back to see your blog

  9. I too began a series this summer. I have been working with abstracted compositions of shadows. I find series to be invigorating. Thinking where the next image will take me. I am setting my sites on a dozen. For now, I have four, and going larger with the final work.
    I look forward to seeing your series.

  10. My immediate thoughts went to Andrew Gifford (see the John Martin of London website), who regularly works in series.

    My own major series this year was The Vaporetto Series. This is a shortened link to the fixed page:


    and my blog URL is:



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