How to Plan a Winter Art Series

Published Jan. 14th 2013

Many artists like to work in series—that is, producing several pieces of work that are tied together by a theme. The unifying theme could be anything: a certain color palette, a technique or style, or even a single source of inspiration.

Creating a series is a good idea, because it gives you greater scope to explore a technique, material or subject matter in greater depth. And, a series is also much more likely to be picked up by an art gallery.

In the Northern hemisphere, winter has settled in, and most artists are bundled up inside against the harsh weather. So what better subject for an art series, especially at this time of year, than winter itself?

Here are some steps for planning and creating an art series inspired by winter:

1. Choose your unifying theme

“Winter” is a huge concept, so you’ll want to narrow down your creative ideas into a more cohesive theme. It might be winter around your home, it might be a certain culture’s myths and traditions about winter, or it might be interpretations of winter seen through the eyes of different people.

Try to come up with several themes that resonate with you and could sustain your interest over several pieces, and then pick your favorite.

2. Do some research

The next step in your artistic process should be gathering research about your theme. In order to produce a number of works on one idea, you’ll need to explore it thoroughly.

For a broad winter theme, your research might answer the following questions:

• What beliefs do other cultures have about winter?
• How does winter feature in mythological tales?
• What are the natural processes governing winter?
• What animals and plants thrive during winter?
• How have other artists interpreted winter?

And of course, with a more specific theme, your research will follow a narrower course.

Your research should include talking to other artists, finding books in the library and resources on the internet, and even attending lectures at your local university on the topics that interest you.

You’ll also want to gather reference materials—like photographs you’ve taken, previous sketches, or even film footage—and start sketching out compositional ideas and themes for your series.

3. Create a schedule

Once you’ve finished some compositional sketches for a few of your finished pieces, sit down and come up with a schedule for completing them. I like to begin the project with only a few pieces planned, because I know that as I work I’ll come up with enough ideas to fill out the rest of the series.

During this planning and scheduling stage, I set dates for the completion of each piece, as well as rough sizes and materials I’ll need. Setting a time-and-materials schedule will help keep you focused and moving forward even if you hit some bumps in the road along the way.

4. Get started!

The last stage—which is also the most difficult AND the most rewarding—is to sit down and create your series. This bit takes determination and guts, but at the end you’ll be rewarded with several stunning pieces that interconnect to tell your own personal story about winter.

Once your series is complete, or nearly complete, you can also start looking for a gallery to display it, or put it up on your website or an online gallery. Check out 10 Steps for Creating a Successful Business From Your Art and 7 Tips for Successful Art Marketing to learn more about that process.

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