Thursday, November 11, 2010

Series or Cereal? That is the Question (pardon me, Mr. Shakespeare)

Artists create their work in many different ways. I prefer to work in a series format, while others like to be more random in their subjects, styles, and content, like many cereals.

What is a "series?" you may wonder. A series is a group of like-minded, like-themed, on-topic works that explore a central idea. To work in a series format allows you to spend time with an idea, to develop it or to abandon it for something else. For me, creating in that fashion allows the process of making art to unfold in a personal and meaningful way.

How do I decide what idea to explore? First and foremost, the idea has to have some personal resonance for me; it has to substantially relate to my world. When something speaks louder than the rest or when Sera (short for serendipity, or the Holy Spirit, if you will), keeps reminding you again and again, that topic has  significance for you. For example, many years ago my husband and I thought about a taking a trip to Santa Fe. As never before, the city came up in conversations, in print, and on television...others were mentioning Santa Fe before we had a chance to say that we might go there!

Zola on the Couch ©1992 Kathryn Dettwiller, Oil on Canvas, 18 x 24"

From 1992-1995, I painted my dog, Zola, a brown standard poodle. The Zola Series was a time for learning about myself and channeling those various facets into a surrogate form, Zola. She appeared in almost 50 paintings, ranging from serious representation to downright wacky portrayals.

Portrait of Zola, Frontal  ©1992  Kathryn Dettwiller, Mixed Media on Paper, 28 x 21"
I Don't Think We're in Kansas Anymore  ©1992   Kathryn Dettwiller, Oil on Canvas, 36 x 36"


Susan Tantlinger said...

Kathryn, I really like your explination of why you work in a series. Also agree with your use of a subject that means something to you.
My favorite of Zola is the orange and green one. Is that Manet and the Little Prince? If so, how did those three get together?

Kathryn said...

Susan, Manet happens to be my favorite and I painted several "Portraits of Zola"using Manet's Portrait of Emile Zola as a take-off. The small squares at the bottom refer to the same painting by Manet. I made linocut of his painting "Olympia," printing it twice, and just painted the Japanese samurai. Those subjects are pinned to a bulletin board behind E Zola in Manet's painting.
As for the green one, I must have been goofy that day. But it's one of my favorites!

Nanci Hersh said...


I, too work in series and can appreciate your sharing of that way of working for your readers. My pets have come up in my work as well- Rabbits, now fish. I like how you explore your series in different mediums as well as your use of text.

Do you ever work on two different series simultaneously?

Kathryn said...

Thanks for commenting. I think that we have to use what is meaningful to us. In answering your question, I rarely work on two different series at the same time, except when they overlap. Then, it is inevitable.

Post a Comment