As I go on another holiday up into the Northwoods with spotty internet service, I thought I would repost an article from last November 2016, Lessons from Working in a Series. One of the best ways I set myself up for success completing the Every Day Project every day is by setting up 25 day series with an engaging theme. I decide the color palette and design parameters for each 25 days series. It narrows the options to some degree but makes the every day part more do-able with less decision fatigue to wear me out. Each series has a lesson waiting for me. I added more images of the daily squares to illustrate my point in this revisited article.
Lessons from Working in a Series
Last week I was starting to panic because I had no ideas for the next series and the Fall Prairie series was ending in two days. Each series runs for 25 days of daily squares which I then sew together in consecutive order into a 30 inch square. I don't know why I worry because some idea usually comes to me in time. Perhaps it is that deadline looming ahead of me that makes me just decide quickly. I do not have the luxury of debating the pros and cons of possible ideas. Usually there is a clear winner. One design idea just feels right.
My last series, the Fall Prairie series, is based on the changing colors of the prairie in our backyard. Some people can look at a prairie and only see browns. But there is an explosion of colors when you look closely. Several shades of browns, greens and purples for fall aster flowers along with the blue sky and the white clouds. So this was my color palette for the Fall Prairie series. The design was my "go-to" design where I balance horizontals for the layers of vegetation and sky along with the vertical distribution of the tall prairie plants with glimpses of sky in between the plants.
Balancing horizontal and vertical lines is a constant reoccurring theme in my art.
There is a lot of variation in the daily square designs for the Fall Prairie series because I put very few constraints on the design. While this lack of constraints can be liberating, it can be a burden when there are so many possible options. So for my current series, I knew I wanted some more limitations, more constraints. On day 299 of 2016, I decided to make a square out of blue fabric with just a small rectangle of white fabric. It reminded me of looking up at the blue sky and just seeing one small white cloud. This simple design was appealing. I decided to explore it further with my next series. I call this current series Surround. In every series, I look for a unifying theme. The unifying design will be an inside space surrounded by the same color fabric. This series will have a unifying theme in color using all different shades of purple to be the "surrounding" fabric. For the focal point on the inside space or what is surrounded by the purple fabric, I have no rules. The center shape can be any color, square or rectangle, and anywhere within the square. This is a perfect blend for me of constraints and freedom. It makes me excited to get into the studio every day.
While the Fall Prairie series had too much freedom, the recent series Blue Square had too many constraints and not enough freedom. To make the blue square inside each daily square, I had to measure the fabric and be exact. This is not enough freedom for me. I was also too restricted in the color palette of just blues and golds. The color palette is based on the upholstery of a couch in the Netflix series Pinky Blinders. Great example of finding inspiration anywhere, but it was way too limiting when coupled with a design that was too limiting. So I learned my lesson. Each series has lessons to teach me.
In the end, the final piece may look great together in each of these series I have written about. However, as an artist who creates daily, I want my series work to be exciting to work on with just the right balance of constraints and freedom to keep it interesting and keep me creating every day effortlessly. So I keep learning how to do this every 25 days.
Wish me luck on my current Surround series. Interested in seeing my daily squares? Follow me on Instagram. Click HERE to see the daily squares.