Artists create series of paintings whether it's a variation on one theme, like Degas' ballet dancers; or different versions of a single subject, like van Gogh's sunflowers.
Monet had many variations of water lilies but also did series on one theme: haystacks, Rouen Cathedral and poplar trees, to try and capture different lights at different times throughout the day or season.
Last spring, I decided to start a series on boats. I figured if I had to spend a lot of time painting the same subject, it better be something that inspired me: I love to sail and I love boats.
While traveling through places like the stilt village in the middle of Lake Nokoue, West Africa, I was in awe at how well young boys navigated dug out canoes with makeshift sails of sewn together rice sacks. I dug up some old photos from our visit to Benin and begged dear friends, Evan and Diane, who are currently sailing around the world, to email me images they had taken of ‘interesting’ boats. Et voila, I was on my way prepping six canvases for my ‘sailboat’ series.
Like so often in life, the progress on the ‘sailboat’ series got interrupted as a new opportunity presented itself. A dear ‘mom’ friend, Catherine, who is actively engaged in promoting African culture in our community, asked me if I was interested in painting five paintings for A Taste of Africa Festival 2017, a celebration of diversity, arts, culture and global citizenship. Well, du huh! Off course I was not only honored to be asked but thrilled to start another series, this one on African portraits.
Again, I dug through photographs of our trip across the African continent and begged dear friends, Chanan and Maria, who live in South Africa, to send me photos, images, anything that portrayed the richness of the African culture. With the help of Catherine, we managed to narrow the selection down to five.
Now, all still needed were the right sized panels. I headed off to Michael’s and bought five of the largest, pre-stretched canvases available. I wanted my African portraits to make a big impression. The lady at Michael’s did ask if they would fit in our car and I confidently convinced her that yes, we had a station wagon, no problem. Well, to make a long story short, it did not fit and Kim, another dear ‘mom’ friend came to the rescue as her husband placed the canvases in their truck and drove them home. It takes a village.
I guess I now have to give each series a name. Keeping with tradition of labeling paintings as Untitled I or Abstract I, I will call the Maasai Warrior Getting Ready for his Wedding: African Portrait I and the two boys sailing their dugout canoe: Boat I.