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Series painting a thoughtful process

From May 25-27 I attended the BRAA workshop "Working in a Series." This workshop was taught by the ever wonderful artist, Danie Janov. I am pleased to count this lovely lady among my friends so deciding to sign up for these three days was a no brainer for me. I had always been intrigued by why an artist would paint the same topic over and over--an apple 10 different ways, for instance. I had seen several of Danie's series and they were wonderful. No apples at all. I knew some of her series were emotionally driven.

She recommended the series process as a way of exploring aspects of art. Theme - 10 different versions of a barn. Color - explore everything you can about the color of your choice. Intellectual - a subject you had studied or researched. To say something, to learn something, to refine a style, to explore an emotion, to work through a difficult life event. All of these things seemed worthwhile to me. A series could be just 2-3 pieces of work or it could go on for 22 years like Jasper Johns who made large prints of the same coffee can holding paint brushes over and over and over again. Danie and I saw this series at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and it was quite fascinating.

Danie started each day with an hour of lecture and exhibition of various artworks in series. She challenged us to think about what we were doing and encouraged exchange of ideas, tips and inspiration. Most of the day we are able to work in whatever manner we wished to explore and create the series we had come to work on. The diversity of the work going on in the room was fascinating! Acrylic and watercolor painters sat next to a quilter! Monoprinting Nancy created a big pile of gray-blue colored poppy seed pods on paper. I, a person who had decided for sure my topic only the day before, ended up with four figure works in acrylic and collage. I must admit I really like them.

Larry the sculptor of large things metal, worked with small bits of paper in a series of experiments and drew smudgie lines on textured paper, then designed a cover for a book he is writing. Danie circled the room to advise and critique. On the last day, we went from artist to artist as they told us about their plan (or lack therefore) and how they did their process to create their final series. Some series numbered only two, some numbered more. It was a fluid workshop which seemed to become an incubator of ideas, shared and enjoyed by all.

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