What Is Serial Painting?

Over the years I have done many serial or what some call a series of paintings with a particular theme.  Simply put, Serial Art is a kind of modern art where there are a series of paintings or sculptures of related themes and/or techniques. Serial painting also employs techniques from styles such as hard edge painting, systems art, and op art.

It can be more mathematical in its genesis, and requires a bit more planning than other styles of painting and sculpture.  Especially if one is using technology in the creative process.    Needless to say, I don’t spend anytime thinking of mathematical equations in my art.  That just feels a bit too confining for me, but I admire those who can combine this kind of linear thinking with the creative process.  I just want to keep the spontaneity so I let my intuition take over instead.

Serial paintings often seem more deliberate and less spontaneous that other painting forms, and less immediately emotional. However, their effects on the viewer can be as powerful as other painting styles.  They therefore require an artist who is very organized, and also someone conversant in mathematics – particularly in geometry and mathematical congruence.  When I think of this statement I think of David Hockney.  His works are so well thought out.  He uses video and technology in remarkable ways.  His most recent exhibit at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art demonstrated what Serial painting is all about.

Serial paintings can offer a certain style or technique, but within those confines, still show a wide variety of colors, textures, and subject matter, depending upon the particular artist’s conceptual intentions, ideas, and perceptions.

Serial paintings also give an artist an opportunity to develop his or her conceptual ideas in more than one painting. This allows the artist to “grow” the pieces as they progress, and therefore make a definitive statement about the paintings. Serial paintings can be of any number, so there are many variations on a theme or technique possible for the artist. So, what can appear like a very restrictive form, can actually be quite freeing for the painting. And also very expressive.

Serial paintings are contemporary but not new. Many artists have employed the serial concept in their work. Claude Monet is a very famous serial painter, and both Corot and Turner also tried the style. Josef Albers, Max Bill, and Richard Paul Lohse are other well-known serial painters. So the concept of serial paintings has existed for a while, and the opportunities it presents for the artists that use it are endless.