Working in a Series

As if I didn’t have enough things to do, I signed up for a class at QU with Elizabeth Barton on working in a series. I have been wittering on about whether I should develop some of my beginnings of series further, so this seemed like an opportunity too good to miss. The class started last Friday and we have lots of exercises to help us understand the principles behind working in a series and with forming some ideas as to what our personal theme might be.

The first exercise was to analyse the work of some favourite artists to understand their themes and how they varied the idea of the theme. I thought I’d share these findings with you. We were to look at two painters, two quilters and two artists from another medium.


Claude Monet has always been one of my favourite impressionist artists. He worked on many series all based on particular objects e.g. wheatstacks, Rouen cathedral and places e.g. London, his garden at Giverny. He was principally interested in how the light changes an object and painted things at different times of the day and in different seasons. I found this excellent website showing many paintings from his series.

I discovered the works of Alexej von Jawlensky at a retrospective exhibition we visited with friends in Wiesbaden. (He lived the last part of his life in Wiesbaden.) There was a room full of his face paintings (Jawlensky actually calls them Köpfe – heads) that really made a lasting impression on me. He produced many works based on faces which became increasingly abstract with time. They become studies of shape and line. There is a good overview of this development here. While researching online I found these line drawings on the MoMA, New York website. His drawings particularly use few lines to portray a face.


Photographer Alain Briot takes amazing landscape photographs mainly in the American South West. He uses light to create wonderful atmosphere. Two galleries particularly appeal to me:
Antelope Canyon for the light, texture, shape and line. The colours are also amazing.
Blur Portfolio – Trees and cacti reduced to abstract shapes, with lots of line, again the colours are gorgeous.
I first discovered Alain Briot when thinking about developing a personal style. He has an interesting series of articles on the Luminous Landscape photography website.

I had to include the paper artist Isabelle de Borchgrave, who produces costumes and objects from paper. These are 3D works. Her costume series are themed by era or place and include all the accessories, made from paper, including lace, jewelry and shoes. She currently has an exhibition Pulp Fashion at the Legion of Honor Museum, San Francisco that I wrote about just a couple of weeks ago. Isabelle shows the most amazing attention to detail.


David Walker – In the Beginning Series based on the egg shape. Great colours that really sing. The development of the series is by changing the colour scheme, the shapes remain: the egg, curved and straight lines. Lots of contrast.

Valerie Goodwin – Cartographic Quilts a series based on maps – geometric shapes – squares, rectangles and line. I like them because they tell a story, but are not 100% realistic – maps being an abstract form. Great use of bright colours and contrast too.

I couldn’t just stop at two quilt artists. So here is a very different kind of quilt to the two artists above.
Deirdre Adams – particularly the horizon series – I love the simplicity of them, but they still have lots to tell.
Line, large areas of colour, lots of texture with the quilting. I particularly like Horizon V for the sudden introduction of 3 little houses on the horizon and a “pieced border” on the left hand side. – Variation mainly on colour scheme and the height of the horizon.

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