The Do's And Don'ts of Working In A Series

I often find myself working across a series.  Sometimes these start out as an individual painting that Ive enjoyed and feel the need to explore further; others have grown organically from an idea that I know will work well over numerous paintings.  

A series is is defined as a coherent and unified body of work that employs a similar theme, subject matter or palette of colour across a number of artworks...usually more than 5. 

It's a wonderful way to deeply explore a theme that excites you and can keep you growing as an artist.  Galleries like to see series in portfolios as it can show consistency and staying power and displays an undeniable voice and story from an artist.  

Here are a few Do's and Don'ts when it comes to creating a strong series. 

Do :

Choose a theme or subject matter that is able to be painted with numerous variations. For example, you may decide to paint a tree over the seasons or with differing weather. It's the same tree, but different each time. Stay consistent in style, technique, subject matter or colour palette. 

Art series with hand and flowers

I have shown this with my Helping Hand's the same wooden hand each time, with a consistent composition and view point, but each painting shows the hand holding different flowers.  It's undeniably from the same artist (me) and works as a series that I can keep growing and expanding over time.  

Choose a subject that excites you to pursue and will keep your art viewers coming back to see more. Each artwork should be able to be enjoyed on its own  but should also work beautifully when viewed as a whole series. 

Keep a file of reference photos or a notebook of thumbnails as possible inclusions to a series.  By doing this, you will have an abundance of artworks to keep you going when the mojo is low or you are pondering new ideas.  It's also great to work on smaller paintings in-between those larger or more energy zapping paintings. 

Art series with fruit on plates.

Use a series to grow as an artist.  Ive been slowly adding to my 'Plate' series since 2017. I can see a huge amount of growth over the 6 years of adding new artworks.  I know the mistakes I made in the first few years and can now use this information to make better decisions and to make each artwork stronger than the previous ones. 


Don't copy another artists work.  Finding your own voice, ideas and techniques is very important, especially when it comes to a series.  It must be noticeably and uniquely your own work. Be inspired by other artists, but find a way to make an idea totally your own. 

Don't make the artworks in your series too general or dissimilar to each other. They must be unified in some way. They need to be noticeably similar when viewed as a group.

Don't start a series of something that you can't continue to pursue, or don't think will hold your interest very long. Boredom is a huge killer of creativity. 

So there you have it...I hope you find a series of your own.  It's such a great way of growing a portfolio and presenting your work to new collectors.  


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