Over and over again, I hear experienced artists talk about how beneficial it is to work in a series. Whether it's collage, mixed-media art, fabric art, painting—it doesn't matter. Working in a series helps you learn more about the medium, understand how it works, and discover how you like to work with it. Perhaps most importantly, working in a series allows you to practice and experiment without the pressure of "getting it right" on one try.
|My tea-themed fabric collage. I think it needs to
steep a little longer.
In my own studio, I find I often don't go far enough with a piece. I'm afraid to add another layer to the background, or overdo the embellishment, or include too many elements. In short, I'm afraid of "ruining" what I've already got. (And, let's be honest, I'm often in a hurry.)
But what tends to happen is that I end up with a piece of art that looks like it's missing something. I often pull a "finished" piece out of the cupboard and think, "If only I'd added writing to the background," or "That focal point would stand out more if I outlined it."
Take this tea-themed fabric collage. When I made it a couple of years ago, I was very pleased with the outcome. I liked the colors and the composition. I was also proud of the fact that I had allowed myself to use stylized, rather than realistic, shapes for the cups and spoon.
But looking at it now, I can see the background isn't complex enough—it just recedes and the collage looks like it's floating in a sea of cream—and not the good kind. I'm still proud of it, but it needs more work before it's what I would call "art."
Of course, it's also possible to go too far with an art piece. But how will you ever know if it's too far until you try? By working in a series you can work a similar theme in several ways, from austere and sleek to over-the-top layered and embellished and every stage in between.
To try this out for myself—and to inspire you—I've decided to make one tea-themed piece of art a week to explore mixed-media and fabric art techniques. It will be the Tea for Tuesday series, and I encourage you to play along. I'll be featuring another artist's tea-themed art along with one of mine every week.
It'll be Tea for Tuesday, and two for tea-art. You're all invited to comment and critique!