Theme Based Art

Having just exhibited a body of work involving paintings produced over the last 12 months and including a coupled started early last year,  I can safely say how rewarding it is to see all your work on Gallery walls that have been based on a theme.   They seem to hang there together almost like a family.

I have been working this way for quite a few years now, and the continuity of work flows far more easily..."What to paint next.." questions rarely occur as each painting leads on to the next and the next as you work through all the different facets and possibilities and aspire to make each one better than the last.
If you are either a beginner, or someone with experience this is a very good discipline to follow – as you exhaust all the little pathways and branch lines of your theme.
You may find possibilities in even the most simple subjects.  I once did a series of garden painting that were without a horizon line (a colour field exercise is an avenue to explore with this kind of subject)  One of my garden paintings had a glimpse of a stone pathway in it and from that I started on passages and pathways through...and ultimately my journey series came about.

As you would read in some of the statements about my own "spiritual" journey is my current theme.  I believe we are made up of three personages...body, soul and spirit and tapping into my spirit through God's Spirit I find inspiration flows out and helps me to express how I see my life's journey.  I see it being somewhat parallel to what we see in God's Natural Creation....the shapes, the dynamics, the growth, the endless peace of skies on clear days, the twists and turns of bushland, the thorny places, steep or slippery rocks and the ever-changing restless seas that pound our shores where broken shells or jelly blubbers and stingers lie in wait for tender toes.

There are myriads of themes to use... a favourite verse, a piece of prose, lines from a play, a special song....not only for just an isolated painting or two.    Try preparing a sheet of paper large enough to hold small 10cm or 20cm square working drawings and just start putting down your responses to those words till you have a few with potential that you can enlarge upon...and your series has begun.  If you use coloured pastels or charcoal you will free up more.   Don't discard too quickly.  Cut some up and re-assemble, turn them around and look at them from a different angle.  Have FUN and DON'T be too precious.  Keep a scrapbook of ideas from travels, reading, or your own journaling.   But KEEP IT FRESH – if if looks like you've exhausted all your possibilities in your larger works – go back to your little scraps of paper, diary or photo file and take off in another direction. 

Above all, keep in mind that you are wanting your viewer to come with you on your journey, see the connections you are making and always find something new and interesting in your work and  hopefully want have it for themselves.