Creativity Workshop: Play It Again

Still Life No. 1
(watercolor on paper, 15×22) was the starting painting of a deliberate series of works featuring this still life and was painted to represent the subject fairly closely. The patterns in the vase, the sake pitcher and the bonsai tree all brought an Asian in?uence to the subject.

Still Life No. 83 (watercolor on paper, 22×30) uses ?at shapes to create a contemporary feel and employs line and pattern to delineate planes to add interest.

Years ago, a favorite art instructor mentioned in passing that he painted in series. Frankly, I thought it must be boring to paint the same thing over and over. But later there were more discussions with other artists and an awakening began to take shape: “What exactly were the definitions and restrictions of series painting, and, moreover, why do it?” I wondered. There are many approaches to working in a series—everything from painting a related idea or a concept to reworking the same subject repeatedly—but no matter the approach, certain advantages tend to emerge from the work. Skills that otherwise would never have been refined evolve.

By painting the same basic subject, artists begin to develop a memory about it. After completing many paintings in a series, artists reach the point where they can render the subject with merely a gesture. Working in a series also brings another level of skill into focus: creativity through design. The word design has to do with how we use color, value, shape, texture, direction and space. These are the building blocks of every sort of painting. Whether your interests lie in floral work, figures, landscapes, portraits, still life or abstraction, these elements are always in play, and working in a series can open new avenues of creativity and exploration for any artist.

With a friend, a painting group or independently, set the parameters of your challenge series. (It helps to restrict your series to one subject or one perspective.) Begin with one painting and see where it takes you, keeping in mind that the further you go, the more you’ll discover. Send images of your original painting and one or more of your subsequent paintings for your chance to win our prize (see details below).

Try It!

Get together with your painting group or complete the Creativity Workshop Activity on your own. Send a JPEG (with a resolution of 72 dpi) of your painting to with Creativity Workshop in the subject line. We’ll choose our favorites and publish them on our website. One entrant will receive a six-month subscription to online video workshops, plus $50 worth of North Light ?ne art books. The deadline for entry is October 20, 2009. See the winners of previous Creativity Workshops and read the stories behind the paintings by clicking here.


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