2 Reasons to Make a Body of Art
Many artists, from experienced to just starting out, get so excited by the new idea that they jump around with their art explorations. I understand where you are coming from. Right now, I am fighting off my own desire to learn everything about weaving with the painted, gilded series I have committed myself to this year.
You enjoy the process, the art and get wrapped up in the making, which has its pros and cons. This is usually offered as advice in situations where people assume you are then amateur or that you want to become a full-time artist. Not only does this make you feel like your work is not good enough, it can feel like personal rejection and even push you to give up on art all together. Today I want to talk to you about the benefits of creating a body of wart. Why create work for a portfolio or in a series? What use is there in doing this for us creators?
Body of Art or a Series
To begin this discussion off correctly, we must define the difference between a body of art and a series. There is not a huge difference, the gap is more of a nuance. A series of artworks usually have an obvious investigation or theme. For example, someone could have decided to create caricature portraits of political figures. Because they are all about political figures, this would be thought of as a series.
A body of art is more like a portfolio accumulation of artworks that share the same style and overall message. If our caricature artist continued to do portraits but of people that had no political affiliation, the new work and the political series could be considered a body of work together. Multiple series together could be thought of as a body of art. Body of art has a more overarching view of artwork where similar use of colour or mark making might be the theme that links the individual works together.
Practice makes process. When you develop a series of artworks that relation to one another you repeat formal decisions. (Formal means related to elements and principles of art. Formal decisions are then the artistic choices we make using line, colour, pattern etc… for those less familiar with art terms.) this means you create opportunity not only to refine ideas but your skill. Repetition and practice are what helps an artist to grow.
Embarking on developing a series of artworks also reflects a level of confidence: you believe in your work enough to keep at it and continue down the rabbit hole. I have heard that many in this community find it difficult to create time for your art. Committing to a regular practice and making time is the first step. Knowing what you are going to create, what you plan to work on each time you get to that paper also makes it easier to keep coming back (and starting in the first place!).
Create from a Place of Freedom
A big objection I hear from artists who start to share their work is they are afraid of being boxed in… that if they share their art and have “tried on” one idea, that is all they are allowed to release into the public domain. This is a myth. It is an excuse that keeps you from making more art.
Many famous artists investigated a variety of techniques, ideas, and styles as time goes on. Picasso is a fantastic example of this. Look up Picasso cubism versus Picasso blue period and you will see where I am coming from. Creating a series of artworks creates freedom into your creative process. Yes, you read that right. Freedom. Let us say you have one idea or style you play around with in your art. By the end you have 8 paintings. You now feel bored with the idea of working so you stop and start something fresh. Which investigates sculpture.
You still have 8 paintings in the first style you explored. And you worked at it for a while, spending time to understand before the boredom set in. Each series can have their own unique style, message, and voice. You are not constricted to one idea and your style and voice will even display connections between series, but let the art historian sort that out for you, because you have a new idea to have fun with!
To conclude, having a body of work promotes so much growth in every artist that explores this approach. You will learn a lot about how you create, what you like to create and the ideas that propel you forward. Do not worry about being put in a box though, we are all human and have every right to explore whatever idea takes our fancy.