Painting a Series

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Heat Series Painting: The Series Begins

Series Painting Heat 1
Photo © Marion Boddy-Evans

Painting a series of similar or related paintings doesn’t mean you’ve run out of ideas (or, worse, you’ve only ever had one idea!). Rather, painting a series is a way of pursuing an idea, of pushing it to see how far it’ll go, of trying out variations to see where you’ll end up.

I’ve found with this series of painting I’ve called “Heat” that one painting leads to another, and to another. The painting shown here I regard as the first of the series of paintings. But the painting I’d done immediately before led to this one, and without it I would never have had any of my Heat paintings.

The paintings are all acrylic on canvas and the main colours used are cadmium red, cadmium orange, cadmium yellow, golden ochre, titanium buff, and titanium white.

(Follow the development of this painting in this step-by-step painting demo.)

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Heat Series Painting: The Original

Series Painting - Heat 2
Photo © Marion Boddy-Evans

This is the painting that led to the others in my Heat series. I keep it on my studio wall not because I think it’s a wonderful painting, but because it taught me so much and has led to paintings I’m particularly pleased with.

There are elements I like, such as the sun and the tree, and elements I would rework if I were working on this painting now, such blending the colours on the hill rather than having them as such distinctive bands.

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Heat Series Painting: The Little Trees

Series Painting - Heat 3
Photo © Marion Boddy-Evans

Having done a vertical version, I now went back to horizontal canvas, but moved my point of view further away. I like the echo of shapes between the sun and the land, but the trees I just couldn’t get working for me. I repainted them many times, eventually putting the canvas to one side. Though, I’m still not entirely happy with them, I decided to declare the painting 'finished' as I wasn’t convinced I ever would get them 'right' in my eyes.

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Heat Series Painting: Up Close

Series Painting - Heat 4
Photo © Marion Boddy-Evans

This is the most abstract painting in the whole series (so far!). The intention is that you feel as if you’d stepped up close to a tree in one of the other paintings. It’s not my favourite in the series, but it is of a close friend of mine.

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Heat Series Painting: No Kissing

Series Painting - Heat 5
Photo © Marion Boddy-Evans

When I first painted this, something just wasn’t working in it for me, but I wasn’t sure what. Then Alistair, my husband, pointed out that I had the sun and the landscape just touching -- or kissing -- and suggested they should rather overlap. I changed it and was so pleased with the result that some other kissing happened….

(Take a look at the two versions of the painting...)

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Heat Series Painting: A Commission

Series Painting - Heat 6
Photo © Marion Boddy-Evans

All the paintings I’d done up to now were the same size, 250mm x 650mm. An acquaintance commissioned a larger version of one of the series, but wanted it twice the size of the original. She said her house was “cheerful and bright” and she had just the spot in her lounge for a larger version of the painting.

I deliberately didn’t look at the smaller painting when I did the larger, not wanting it to be an exact copy, though it would be very similar. The result: the branches of the tree came out quite different; the sun is larger and more blended, and the hill is larger. She was, I’m pleased to say, delighted with the painting.

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Heat Series Painting: Reversing the Background

Series Painting - Heat 7
Photo © Marion Boddy-Evans

The most significant change between this painting and the others in the series is that the dominant colours of the sky and land are reversed. There’s also no sun. The plant is a welwitschia, an ancient desert plant species that occurs in parts of Namibia.

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Heat Series Painting: Adding Texture

Series Painting - Heat 8
Photo © Marion Boddy-Evans

In this painting in the series the major change is that I applied the paint for the tree with a knife, not a brush, so there’s a lot more texture in the painting. You’ll see that it retained the ‘reversed’ colours from the previous painting in the series, with the sky being red and the land yellow. The colours in the sun have also been reversed from the suns in earlier paintings in the series.

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Heat Series Painting: Group

Series Painting - Heat Group
Photo © Marion Boddy-Evans

These three paintings in the series were not intentionally painted as a group, but the person who has them has hung them closely together on her wall. I think they in fact work better as a group than individually. (Which led to more ideas and more thumbnails of paintings in the Heat series done as groups, not individual works.)