Planning an Art Series: Part One

Hello, hello, hello! I hope everyone is having an excellent start to the week. I know our house has been tremendously busy. This week’s post is going to be part one of a two part series on planning art series. For part one, I’ll be discussing the beginning stages of planning-mostly finding inspiration, researching, and gathering materials/purpose. Planning an art series can be a bit daunting, but when you can easily break down the steps and dedicate your time and energy to the series it can be a breeze.


The key to any “good” series of art is having a central theme. This may seem pretty obvious, but a theme can quickly run away from you if you don’t have a plan of action before starting. A theme can be an object (the moon, the human figure, etc), an idea (politics, spirituality, etc), or a situation (a trip, a response, etc).

Julia Badow has an amazing example of a situational theme for a series. One night while working in her studio in Germany, she experienced a blackout! She responded to that situation by experiment with painting by candle light. She says “it was irritating not to be able to see perfectly what I was doing and strangely freeing at the same time.”


Seven piece “Blackout” series by Julia Badow

A good theme can make any number of pieces for the series. For the series I am planning along with these two posts, it wil be a collection of four small prints. In Julia Badow’s case, she used the time of the blackout to dictate the number of pieces. 


Has anyone ever fallen down the youtube hole late at night? You start with a video of how to make tepache and ten videos later you are watching a product review of a tool to flush out ear wax? Or is that just me? That ear wax video I watched years ago one night at 3 am turned into just one of the pieces of research I used in my art showcase my final year at uni.

The whole point of research during this process is to gather reference images, to see what other artist are doing, and to gain even more inspiration for the series you are about to create. These images can be of the objects (cactus, skulls, trees, etc), examples work from other artists you admire, or even colours you like and inspire you.


One mood board for my art series I am planning.

With the images you have gathered from magazines, books, and the internet you can create a collage, mood board, or inspiration board to hang around your studio to remind you of the works you want to create. I would recommend gathering 10-15 images, but you can get more if you would like.

Materials and Purpose

So you’ve made it this far, you have gotten your theme nailed down (or near enough) and you have gathered your reference images! But what are you gonna do, are you gonna paint, draw, or carve? You may have got some idea, maybe you want to experiment with a new media or push your skills in a medium you know. During this stage of planning, I normally create a sort of map that I will print out to go along with my mood/inspiration boards.

I will write down my theme, and if I haven’t completely nailed it down yet, I will write down all of them and I number them by importance. After that I will add a materials section to plan out how I would create my art if I used two or three different techniques and materials. It is a bare bones list about which style of art will create the best work.


Finally, with that all done, I’ll add a section I call “Plan/Schedule”. At this point I will sketch out the purpose of my series and how long I will take to make it. The purpose could be to use for a school project, for your online shop, or to submit for a juried art show. Or it could simply be because you’ve got an idea and need to get it out, (sometime the purpose may not come to you until you’re nearly done).

When it is all said and done, I give myself a time limit, that way I don’t get sidetracked or only work on this project and let others fall to the wayside.

You can use these first steps if you are struggling to find a path for an art series and need a bit more structure in your work. These are only suggestions of course and any art series can be dynamic and changing. Like a youtube hole, one thing can lead to another and you can sudden have a marvellous idea for a series that you wouldn’t have normally done without first trying to create the first series.

Next week, I will be writing the final stages of my art series plan.