Painting in a Series

After you’ve painted for awhile, you start realizing that there’s more to making art than making pretty pictures. That’s where most of us fall short. If we’re to become more than able technicians, we must understand the content of our work, what it is we’re trying to say. While it’s essential to learn the principles of design, the fundamentals of drawing and color, good art transcends technique. Good art has content.

I’ve found that the most profound, provocative insight we bring to our work comes from within?from our own personal response to our inner and outer worlds. After all, making art is surely one of the purest forms of self-expression.

One way I explore and express myself is by working in series. I grew up in a family of card sharps and throughout my life I’ve used cards as images and symbols. Part of an ongoing series called Postcards From the Edge, The Rubaiyat of Omar Sharif (at left; acrylic on paper, 40×60) also demonstrates “what if. ?” What if I worked with a limited palette, poured colors and lifted up the corners to encourage the colors to run, etc.?

Femmes Fatales (at right; watercolor on paper, 30×40), is part of the same ongoing, autobiographical series. Cards have special meaning for me, and I combine an original way of painting them (by pouring paint) with personal symbolism. If you look closely, you may find a self-portrait on a card, a tube of lipstick (in reference to femme fatale), a figure by Modigliani and an evocation of the three fates (reflecting my study of art history and my love of mythology), and other fun, hidden messages.

Sandra Carpenter is editor of The Artist’s Magazine.

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