So you have been painting for a bit now and you have an idea of the subjects you like to paint.
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But progress seems to be slow or you are having trouble figuring out how to improve, apart from just painting lots.
This is when painting in a series is going to really help you.
What do you choose and how do you work at improving?
First choose something you love painting. You are going to be painting a lot of the same subject so you don't want to get bored with it quickly.
Theme's might include
Colour and texture
A regional location
An idea or thought or emotion
Your subject or theme could be anything.
Look at your past work on this subject and decided what you would like to say about this subject in this series. You want to have a common thread running though your series.
For example I love to paint flowers but there are as many ways to paint them as there are flowers to paint. So I needed to narrow the subject matter down further.
For this series of flower paintings I decided I wanted to paint flower fields or flowers grouped together in the garden all the same type. Next time I come back to flower paintings I can choose a different way to paint them and continue to build up my flower painting skills.
Next important point is: What was I trying to say or convey with this series.
This is important because it will keep you focused on the same style of painting leaving you free to explore other learning and you will build a cohesive collection.
In these paintings I wanted to show the joyful, colourful and exuberant nature of spring and summer flowers in and around my garden.
How could I do this?
I have used colour to help me express my joy in this time of year. I love to create happy and cheerful paintings that bring a smile to people’s faces.
We can always use more joy in the world!
So think of ways you can get your message across with the style of painting. Shape of the canvas, Colour scheme. Dark tones or light tones colours. Lots of colour or pastel shades. How you compose your paintings.
How you interpret your subject is more important than the subject itself.
So having made those decisions how do I then go about improving my skills from there?
To do a series and improve you have to take a look at your paintings and do an honest self-assessment.Try to take the emotion out of it. Pretend it's not yours if you can, if that helps. You need to be constructive with that assessment and try to make it as specific as possible.
What parts of the painting seem weak to you?
What do you need to work on?
What do you like and want to include in future paintings in this series?
Make notes and write them down so you can refer back to them when you need, remembering what you are trying to achieve.
Assess as you go and build new skills one at a time as you do more in the series.
So looking at my past work I decided that I wanted to work on the mood or feeling of the painting.
I wanted a looser, carefree and happy feel to them to echo that wild flower field feeling.
So with that in mind I thought about what type of backgrounds would help with this effect. This gave me a chance to experiment with different ways of applying the paint.
I looked up some different ways to apply backgrounds and found some that I thought would work and even came up with some of my own as the series went on. See my blog on how to apply new techniques to your painting if you need some help with this.
After a few more paintings it was time to assess again. This time I could see I wanted to add more depth to the paintings and wanted the field to look like they went on way into the background. So how could I show that? For me that was all about layers and the colours I used in each layer. Working with increasing detail and bright colour as the painting moved forward.
Things were looking good but I could still see room for improvement. Sometimes my pictures worked well and sometimes they just seemed to have something missing. What was the difference and how could I get more consist success?
I could see that the paintings I really liked and felt worked well had good composition that lead your eye into and around the painting. So I wanted to study different compositions and apply them to different paintings. So instead of just randomly placing the flowers I was now planning them out.
I played with three point composition, Circular- spot light composition, Rule of thirds. The L-shape, Triangle and anything else I studied that I thought might work for my flowers. To do this I looked up different compositions theory. I'm a collector of how to art books so for me it was just a matter of reading these and applying what I was reading. You can get your information from any source that you find works for you.
I also wanted to play with my colours. I had been doing a lot of landscape works just before this and was using a very realistic colour palette which was not what I wanted for my flowers. Remember I said one of the tools I would use to get my message across for this series was colour. So I experimented with some different colour palettes and this is how I discovered how to mix a really beautiful purple. I have since used this a lot now which I may never of discovered if I wasn't willing to step outside my comfort Zone and try different things.
Each painting used the skills I had learned before so I got to practice those skills over and over while learning or trying something new.
Because you are painting the same subject over and over you will quickly get the hang of painting that and can worry less about getting the flowers right in my case and concentrate more on other aspects. Such as, in my case colour palette, composition, depth. You can experiment and take risks more freely because you know your subject well.
And because you are practising these skills over and over with each painting you will cement that knowledge in your mind for future paintings no matter what the subject.
I would suggest 10 or more painting in a series, any less than that and you haven't practised those skills enough to really let them sink in or let the learning process develop far enough. They don't have to be big, in fact it is a good idea to start small and build up to bigger works as you improve.
All the paintings in this blog are painted by me with Atelier Interactive acrylic paints. Easy to blend and beautiful rich colours. Try them out some time and I think you will be happy at how easy they are to use.
This is an affiliate link for atelier interactive paints.
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As I look back on my flower series I can see how I have improved and added depth and dimension to these paintings. I have practised these new skills over and over for each one. I wont forget how I did these and can apply those skills to my next series of paintings while then building new skills. I can see how much I have progressed, It encourages me to continue learning and improving.
I hope you can see the benefits of painting in a series and will try it out to improve your painting.
Be kind but honest with yourself and just tackle one skill at a time. The added bonus of painting this way is you will then have a series of paintings that relate well with each other showing your style to put into art shows and competitions.