Creating An Art Series | Doris Charest | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      How I got started


    • 3.

      Basic steps to starting


    • 4.

      Going beyond the ideas


    • 5.

      Planning and more planning


    • 6.

      Need help? Ideas for you


    • 7.

      One last piece of advice and the conclusion


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About This Class


Discover the fundamental stages in crafting an art series, applicable whether you're a painter, sculptor, photographer, or printmaker. Creativity can be prone to distractions, but mastering strategies to address this issue is essential. Explore techniques for generating and developing ideas.

I guide you through my personal methods for idea generation, self-motivation, and maintaining a consistent studio presence—a process adhered to by many artists. Gain insights into establishing your unique workflow environment, fostering an environment where your artistic endeavors can flourish and evolve.

These steps involve getting your own space to work in, choosing an idea, steps to working out that idea, problems you will encounter and much more. 

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Doris Charest

Contemporary Fine Art Specialist and Instructor


Doris Charest - Biography


BED University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB

BFA University of Calgary, Calgary, AB

MED University of Alberta, AB

Mixed media is Doris' favorite favorite form of painting . She loves exploring with textures, shapes, and a more contemporary look. Nature and the world around her inspires Doris. Her love of texture won her the Allessandra Bisselli Award and a First Place in a Still Life show with the Federation of Canadian Artists in Vancouver. Look for Doris Charest's work in the American Magazine: Sommerset Studio (Summer, 2007) and British Magazine: Leisure Painter. Both feature a three pages of Doris' artwork. She won the Sylvie Brabant award in 2011 for her work in the art community. In 2013 she won First Place for he... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Hi, welcome to my course on creating an art series. I'm going to go through step by step the different things that you are going to touch. These are some of the first projects from my series. It combines both sculptures and paintings. You can do both. In this course, you will get a step by step structure to creating an art series. You will get suggestions on getting better at creating a series. You will create a strategy for creating a series and you will get started in your series. The project for this course is to make a plan for your next art series. Pick at least two different possible topics. Pick all the materials you will use and get started. I challenge you to post this plan and your first piece on the site. Share your success with others. Also, this is a great way to find like minded people you never know. You might make a friend create a group, then you'll have great support in my course. I'm going to show you how I started creating my sculpture series and how I added paintings. Step by step is the only way to do this process. And I'm going to guide you through everything one step at a time. We're going to start with getting an idea, finding ideas, making a list, be inspired by surroundings, doing research. I'm going to talk about my own process and then take you step by step through the planning process. Plan for a series or plan for a show. We're going to talk about prototypes, executing your idea, working a series, and how that changed my process. We're going to talk about the importance of playing, finding your voice, working often obstacles. Work with what you have. There's all sorts of topics that we will look at. Painting or sculpting routines, no one works alone. And how to make a group. How to get others to help you with your series and ideas that will keep you going through your whole series. We're even going to touch the importance of having a studio. Join me in creating a series. Easy steps to creating your own personal, very unique art series. This is Dora Chu and I'll see you in the first lesson. 2. How I got started: A walk in the width. This is the start of everything for me. I created large banners of cloth. I added to a collection of these banners were arranged so you could walk through them and have the feeling of walking in the forest. And then Covid happened, that's when I decided that I would like to try three D. Again. I started taking walks and noticing small details in nature. This led to the making of a series of sculptures using Mother Nature as a source of material. I like the idea that creating is an act of hope. It's an act of wanting to get those ideas out there. This is what I picked up and saw. Just little tiny pieces, debris really, of mother nature, that I picked up and I decided to use for a series of sculptures. What I'll do in this course is walk you through how I created my own series and give you tips on how to enhance a series of your own. Easy and going slow are the key words to creating a series. We're going to go very slow and step by step. Get your notebook and we'll see you in the next video. 3. Basic steps to starting: You cannot use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. This is so true with the series. It's very important. Just like Maya Angelou said, Don't be afraid to use what you have and make many variations of it. Creating a series takes time. Lots of it. This is how you do it. Pick a topic near and dear to your heart. Mine is nature. Yours could be something else completely. Now you have your topic. You want to create change, create awareness. The answer to this will help you decide how you treat the subject. Look for subjects you like, colors, shapes, media you love, or you would like to learn to do. Because sometimes you might just want to introduce a new skill to create your series. There are lots of options. The best ideas catch up by surprise when we are doing other things. Here's an idea, brainstorm with someone. This can be on your own or with artist friends. Dig deep. What does your gut say? There will be others interested in that topic. You can choose any topic you'll find. Like minded people, no problem. You will come up with something unique. Remember that your twist on a common topic is a very unique point of view, just on its own. Don't be afraid to pick a topic others have chosen already, finding ideas. You can do that many different ways. You can become a scientist, You can combine ideas. What happens if I take x and put it with z? What is it I do best, but how do I do it differently from other people? Keep it simple. Two elements only to start with. If you pick, for example, political activism and in that you want to put local topics, that's perfect. That's just two different topics. Pick something very specific, Do tests, Believe in your intuition. Grab a pen and a sketch book. Draw out your ideas, add notes, write it all down, fine, as many as you can. Then pick one and start. Okay, you're still stuck. Here's some topics. Addiction, children, your body culture, peace books, literacy, migrant rights influencers, education, food animal rescuing, logging prevention, internet land health, AI, equality, fossils, violence, refugees, social media seeds, water, mental health, taxes, employment languages, society. That's a lot of ideas. Brainstorm ideas. Remember that, find a friend if you can't, or just create your own list. Choose three of that list. Which one do you like the most? How can you turn this idea or this love or this major interest into an art project? Be inspired by your surroundings. Link your project with your local community. There's got to be a twist that's a little different that's really in your community already. What is really important and affects you directly? How does the environmental change affect you? How can political activism affect you directly? Is there a big truth that's being ignored that you can point out? Remember that artists are messengers. They are telling people. Notice this. Notice what's happening around you. Is there a historic story that you could look into? There's lots of really good ideas out there. Then do your research. Know your topic. If you don't know about something but you're really interested in it, do some homework. Spend time, whatever time is needed to learn about your topic. Search out books, websites, people become an authority. When you're an authority, it's very easy to talk to people and explain your artwork. You are allowed to change your mind. Let's say you pick number one. After doing some research and trying out one or two art projects, you go, oh, that's not great. You can change your mind. Go to two, brainstorm again. If your topic is something that you can't create art about, then drop it. If your topic is too sensitive, even if it's you that finds it too sensitive, drop it. If your topic is not what you thought it would be, drop it, find another one. There's plenty of topics out there. You're the one that is going to create artwork that will inspire people. But first, you have to be inspired. First, think about this and make a list, and then we'll see you in the next video. 4. Going beyond the ideas: Now I'm going to talk about a topic near and dear to my heart that I discovered quite accidentally, I was researching Japan because I love Japanese pottery. I love the Japanese art. I decided to do a little research and I cruised the pictures and I loved it. Then I came across this concept, Suji, the art of repairing or repurposing broken objects by highlighting the imperfections with gold or silver to make them precious. Again, I fell in love with that idea. These broken pieces can also symbolize life experiences that have made you stronger and more resilient individuals being broken, being hurt, Failing at something makes you stronger, gives you better ideas, Better coping skills. That's all related to the kin Suji concept. Then a break or moment of failure can be an opportunity that's so optimistic that I just couldn't resist reading more about this topic. You can take something broken and make something new and beautiful. This whole concept is about hope and finding beauty brings joy and hope. These are all concepts that work really well for me with my own life concept. This was my inspiration. This is my first piece. When I was walking around in nature during Covid, I found little pieces of debris that was dropped by birds, by the wind, broken birds, eggs, pine cones, insects, plants. This debris and the Kinsuji concept inspired a whole new idea for me. It was an idea that I was very happy with. I entered my piece here in the International Society of Experimental Artists in 2022 and I want second and show this is what they look like up close. Very tiny eggs with little debris that I found in nature during my walk. What it's about is adding value to ordinary objects. I use eggshell branches, found material. Remember that when you're creating art pieces, each piece is a story. The more pieces you have, the more chapters there are in your book. Your story will change as you create the piece. Plan plan. Always make a plan. What I do is I make a list, I talk to other people that might have ideas on my topic, and then I make sketches. But I'm not a fancy sketcher. See this sketch right here? That's as fancy as it goes. I just find that if I sketch too detail, then it doesn't allow me the freedom to change it up. Because here I had eggs in the container and I was to put branches on the side. Well, I discovered the branches didn't really work. I didn't include them in my piece. But it's important to plan the whole thing when you have an idea and you decide after you've tried out one or two pieces that you really like it, plan for a whole show. Make sketches like this. It's like a brain map. They're not fancy. Just very rough ideas. Now I'll take each of these sections and I will add more detail in my sketchbook. But overall, it's not a fancy plan. Anybody can do this. Then create a prototype. My prototype in the very beginning was a painting, I love nests. And I decided that I was going to start my series with a nest because I had just found one in my walks. Most of my painting career, I nests. At one point in time, I just came back to the nest again. All these walks that I took, I just kept seeing more and more details. After my prototype, I created other pieces. You make a plan. Part of your plan is okay. How many cavises or sculptures am I going to make? What size? How am I going to have both sculptures and as well paintings? Because in my series, I had decided I was going to do both. Going to have small sculptures in the center, and then I was going to create paintings in the background to put on the walls. You make a basic plan, but you have to realize that as your ideas start coming out, you may alter this basic plan. But if you have a plan, it's easy to get to work every day. Take one idea right now and make a plan. Don't make a fancy plan. Just make a plan. Take out your sketchbook, Make a plan, then. We'll see you in the next video. 5. Planning and more planning : Working a series changed my art. It was a game changer for me to work in a series. It allowed me to develop not only sculptures, but paintings. And on a grander scale than I had ever worked before. These rocks here on the side are part of my wall pieces that I want to put in my new series. I'll have rock pieces that are rock paintings that include branches, include debris, include all kinds of things. I'll have wall pieces that show my branches, include debris that I found on my walks, little tiny treasures that I found between the rocks as I was walking on these paths. Why a series? Well, just like I said before, it brings ideas forward. It makes your ideas move forward. I think each piece like a chapter in the book. Like I said before, the more pieces you create, the better your story. If you decide to write a book about how the environment changed the life in your community, then you have a lot to say. The more pieces you have, the more stories you have to tell. Stay on track now. That's easier said than done. Keep a sketchbook with your ideas that you want to develop in this series. Put away all the materials you're not going to use. Creative people are easily distracted and the ideas are always flowing in. But it's better not to work on more than two or three ideas at a time. You get two inundated. Just put your ideas in a sketchbook. And when you're done whatever you're working on now you work on the next ones. Good touches, emotions with your topic. What emotion do you want to touch? Can create pieces that show that emotion. Will other people feel the same? Can you get them involved? Can you create a piece that will make people get excited? Make people get angry? You want to have emotion involved. How can your project help others to? Maybe you want a cause that will help people mix it up. Don't make everything the same. Add something different every time you create a new piece. Contrast things like organic versus manmade. If you normally work small, try a large piece. Finding your voice only happens when you show up to your studio. Show up to your studio and your voice will appear. Creating is finding the link between all the pieces you've created. It's very important that you find your ideas, create a variety of ideas, and then show up to your studio and make them. It's not going to happen unless you put in the hours work. Often this gives you a focus. You finish one piece one day and you think, oh, I have this great idea for the next one. Don't wait till next week, Come back tomorrow. I know life is busy, but sometimes it's just good to work regularly to unpack what you really like. Commitment is important. Play, play some more. But most of all show up to play. There are obstacles, life happens. But even if you have just 15 minutes a day, then use that time, follow the time you have is 15 minutes a day. Then do that, use that time, don't wait for that. 3 hours of uninterrupted time. It's not going to happen. If you have a busy life, use the time that you have and just work it. It's amazing what you can get done in just 15 minutes a day. If you do 15 minutes a day for six days a week, you'll create amazing pieces. What happens is in between those 15 minutes, you're thinking about your artwork. And when you come to it, you really focus and you work fast. That's something that is really good work with the time you have. Work with what you have. If you can't afford expensive supplies, work with inexpensive ones. Work with materials that are around you. Scavenge. Borrow trade. You can trade with other artists. There are materials you probably don't use in your studio anymore. Trade with another artist, just make art. How many multiples? I work in? Multiples. I work in pairs or triples. I if I work two or three similar pieces at a time, I work out the kinks out of the three pieces. There's usually one that's outstanding and two that are okay. You always end up with really good work. Remember that your percentage that turns out is not 100% There are some artists that have told me they throw away about 50% of what they do. I have to say I don't throw away 50% but I'm not afraid to take apart or paint over pieces that didn't work. That's something that you have to be prepared for. What colors do I use? Choose a limited palette. Choose a palette just for that series. Remember, put away the colors you're not using. You may stray from this, but always include some of the main colors you have. If you decide to work with only blues and maybe a little bit of pink, well, you include kind of blues and a little bit of pink. And then once in a while you could add gold. Once in a while you could add green. But little bits of it stick to the same color palette. For my sculpture series, I chose white with accents of gold and occasional colors from nature. I had to work really hard to not stray from that, but it's important not to paint or sculpt with a routine. This gives you cohesion, it builds momentum. This is a review of what I've said earlier, but it's important to drill into you, that it's very important to work because work gives you energy. If you don't feel like working on a particular piece, you can work on another. That's why I work on two or three pieces at a time. There's one piece, for example, that I may not have an answer to. What I do next. I put it aside and I work on the other pieces. Always have something to work on. It makes a big difference. Make up a deadline. If you don't have one, make it up. If you decide to make a series, pick a deadline. Break that deadline up. Let's say you give yourself one year to create 20 paintings. That's quite a few, but you can do that. Break it up in two months. How many per month? How many per week? How much do you have to do per week in order to meet this deadline? Mark it on your calendar, even if it's not set in stone, it gives you a plan. Planning is very important. We'll stop here. I want you to think of how long you want to take to do your new series and then make a plan. And then we'll see you in the next video. 6. Need help? Ideas for you: No one works alone. Keep in mind that even though you're alone in your studio, it's good to reach out to other people. I have a critique group that I use and we bounce ideas off each other. I'm stuck on a project. What I do is I bring it to my critique group, then they help me figure out what I need. Maybe for the new piece, I take my piece to my critique group and they give me ideas on how they would finish my piece. This doesn't mean that I have to use their ideas, it just helps me get another perspective on things that I could do within that piece. Stick to people that encourage you, dump the naysayers, forget the people that are so negative that tell you that your work isn't worth it, or they always find something wrong with your work. Don't go to those people. Only go to the people that are really encouraging. If you get stuck on a series, this working with other people will really help. If you don't have a critique group, create one, choose some artist friends, say let's get together and we can create a group and let's meet once a month, or once every two months. You can just help each other work through your series. This is a really important support group. Don't be afraid to create your own group. How long will it take? Well, you have to be like a bulldog. You have to be tenacious. Remember that the series is a voyage of self discovery. It will grow as long as you need it to grow. For some artists, they spend their lifetime on a series. For other artists, it could be maybe eight to ten paintings. If you feel like you've touched all the points you wanted to say you're done, don't sweat it. Just work until you can't anymore. Explore the multidisciplinary approach. If you paint watercolor, add a bit of collage or acrylic paint in acrylic, add textures, try something different with your series, it will either make a mess or be absolutely wonderful. Take a risk enough that you might get the wonderful part. I had an instructor a long time ago that told me sometimes you end up with a painting that is okay. It's not great, but it's okay. But you have to take the risk to take one more step that will make it wonderful. But also there's a 50% chance. But there's a chance that you might make a mess and you might have to scrap it. But just making it wonderful is worth the risk. Remember, the creative person is willing to live with ambiguity. He doesn't need to have problems solved immediately and can afford to wait for the right idea. That's something, as an artist, you have to be well aware of ideas take time, good ones take even longer. Don't be afraid to wait. Work on your idea a little bit more, and we'll see you in the next section. Vary your process just enough. Try different ways you can tell your idea, but don't stray too far away from it. You tell your story, but you don't stray too much. Here I have a suitcase. My plan is to put some of my sculpture pieces in the suitcase. I have a new part to my story. I have a suitcase in it. I'm going to use my eggs and my twigs and create a sculpture. Here are some sculptures that I created for part of my art group. We had boxes in which we incorporated some of our media to create a story. Each box tells a story from our childhood. These are mine. I always have ideas that I want to expand on. At the top, I have shadows. In the future, I want to create shadows and something related with the sticks and shadows, but I haven't decided what yet. I put this photo up and I'm waiting for the idea to come. Then at the bottom, I had created a whole bunch of singles and I decided to put them all together to create this wall sculpture. It's about maybe 20 feet long. It's all full of my little treasures from nature. These are ideas you could use. What I want you to do now is work a little more on your series and create plan, add more detail to your plan. And we'll see you in the next video. 7. One last piece of advice and the conclusion: Something important I haven't talked about is your studio, finest space you can use as a studio? It doesn't have to be big, but it needs to be a place that's yours and a place you can leave your piece is there and come back to it, even if it's a table in the closet. That's fine. I started on a table in the corner because it was the only space that I had available in the house that we had at the time. And that was a game changer for me, because whenever I had my 10 minutes here, my 5 minutes there, I would go there and I would add to my art piece and the ideas started flowing. And I also would have a places to go to work and I had a place where all my materials were. That's very important. Find a spot in your house that you can use. Tiny or large. It doesn't matter. It's got to be a space that's your own. Remember quality. First, tweak your artwork near the end, polish your pieces so you are proud of them. Have you signed your work? I often forget that part, but remember the most important part is that you love the whole process more than the end product. It's important that the end product looks good, but at the same time you have to love making it. I'm just going to do a little review. Find the topic you love. Make a plan. Work on your plan. Work on your pieces. Change your plan. Adapt your plan to whatever makes it work. But work your plan and have a deadline. Imaginary deadline is fine. Work and enjoy the whole process of creating whatever you create. If you loved it, somebody else will love it. So just keep creating and I look forward to seeing more beautiful artwork out there. Thank you for joining my class. I wish you lots of very many creative hours. Bye for now.