Working in Series I

SERIES: ATLAS OF THE MIND. 9 x 12" INDIA INK ON PAPER, 2014.

SERIES: ATLAS OF THE MIND. 9 x 12" INDIA INK ON PAPER, 2014.

The creation of the Select Series section of my website has allowed me to show  samples of related work. Often series cross or combine mediums. Some series extend to more than 100 works. Only a small selection can be offered. In a unique way, the Select Series section permits the viewer an intimate glimpse into how I make art, and the aesthetic or narrative values that motivate my work. It challenges the viewer to see the breadth of my work without limitations of medium, technique or aesthetic definitions.

It took many frustrating years to acquire the discipline to produce artwork in a series: a group of images that are related in a coherent, recognizable way either by theme, form, composition, color or medium. During this time I was unable to make even two pictures that were related. Each work was a thing unto itself, unconnected both from that which proceeded or followed it. I had little or no control. 

One problem was the medium— paint, crayons, charcoal, it didn’t matter. The medium seemed to have a will of its own. If I began a picture with a vague idea of what I wanted, as soon as I started the medium took control and I lost the idea. Each time the medium changed the image, I responded by changing my idea. As my frustration increased, so did my anger. I was forced to make and remake the image countless times. 

Eventually, the theme dried up. The picture had given me all that it had (I had) to give. I had to start again, from scratch, with a new subject. Once again, the medium took over. This process went on and on until the picture was finished or I threw up my hands and surrendered in defeat. I was emotionally drained. 

On one occasion I brought slides of my work to a prominent gallery. The owner was very impressed with one crayon drawing of a group of  trees. He said, “If you can give me five more like this one I‘ll put you in a show.” I was encouraged by his offer. A show would have given me a strong shot of self-confidence. Though I said nothing, I knew the show would never happen. There was no way I could give him even one more picture like the one he admired. 

Increasing frustration with my work was demoralizing. I had to identify and solve the underlying problems that were dooming my efforts. Something had to change.

I discovered that a major problem was my erroneous idea of what constituted a “finished artwork.” I thought an artwork had to reflect all the thoughts and feelings related to that image. Not only was this almost impossible to achieve (when working, feelings and thoughts are changing moment to moment) but it also armed my inner critic which fiercely resisted finishing anything that it determined was incomplete and, consequently, inadequate. 

I hit, after a while, upon a solution: I replaced my concept of “finished” with the idea that each picture constituted a small step in the long journey toward realization of my wish for that particular image or theme. 

Using this paradigm freed me to consider the means as the end. Each image, worked to completion of its potential, was a step toward the actualization of my inner vision. Each work was a small part of a greater whole: unknown, unknowable and unforeseen. 

A series of work was born.

TO CONTINUE THIS BLOG, GO TO "WORKING IN SERIES II."