Creating a series

Familiarity  brings freedom in painting

It’s a fact that the more familiar I become with a painting subject the easier the actual execution of the elements becomes , the freer the paint or pastel application flows and the more instinctual the response to the material is. All this adds up to a fluid, responsive, and totally “in the moment” painting experience.

When I stop thinking about how to get the shape of a particular rock , or what colour to use in those shadows or how to create a sense of movement in the water things happen almost by themselves.

How do I get to this stage?

Getting to this stage is relatively straight forward – I paint a series! Of course this can become all consuming if I let it so I need to know when I’ve exhausted the material and said all there is to be said about it. To help recognise the moment to stop I organise myself before I start.

Preparing the references for a series.

In an earlier post Cropping is my Friend I explained how I took the original photo above and cropped it many times to create new painting references. From the many crops I did  I whittled it down to three possible series – and here they are.

The Shadows series

Here I focus on the shadows on the sand using different formats gradually cropping in to a intimate view  which emphasises the subject. Here’s my  my first painting in this series.


The Reflections series

Now I turn to the reflections bringing more attention to the water. Although the shadows are still in there it’s clear that the real subject focus has shifted to the golden reflections of the cliffs.

The Cliff series

It seems a natural progression to zoom in on the  cliffs now. The ochres and yellows glow and there are opportunities to make a feature of the gumtrees on the headland.

The Abstract series

After all those crops it became apparent to me that the reflections were the real pull for me in this photograph so now I get rid of much of the other subject matter and just focus on a sliver of the shore and the wonderful golden reflections.


I’m a bit excited by these possibilities now so all I need to do is get started painting!

7 thoughts on “Creating a series

    1. Thanks. I love the crop feature and am constantly amazed how different a photo can look when cut up into smaller sections. I’ve applied this principle to failed paintings as well. Just move a matt around until I find an area that does work and cut the painting down to this size. Glad you were inspired – happy cropping!

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  2. I am enjoying your instructional videos however it is often difficult to see what you are doing and since you don’t talk as you paint, I find it hard to follow at times. It might help to let us see your reference photo more often.
    I was interested in your information on cropping photos. I also have combined photos of the same scene by overlapping areas to incorporate elements I thought were interesting. Thanks for letting us into your studio.


    1. Hi Rochelle,Thanks for your feedback. I do try and remember to talk about what I’m doing but I guess I sometimes just get caught up in the painting. I’m trying to post a copy of my reference photos on this blog so you can have it open whilst watching the video – some I don’t have a digital copy of so can’t post. I’m learning as I go with video quality , where to position for the best view so hopefully my newer videos will be better. Thanks for watching and taking the time to comment.


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