Creating a series of oil paintings is a compelling way for artists to explore a theme, concept, or narrative in depth, and it offers opportunities for developing cohesion and continuity within their body of work. A well-executed series of paintings can captivate viewers, invite them on a visual journey, and provide a deeper understanding of the artist’s intent. In this article, we will delve into the art of creating a cohesive series of oil paintings, exploring the benefits, strategies, and key considerations for artists embarking on this creative endeavor.

The Power of a Series

A series of oil paintings goes beyond individual artworks to create a unified narrative or exploration of a particular theme or idea. It offers several advantages for both artists and viewers:

  1. Depth and Exploration: A series allows artists to delve deeply into a subject, concept, or theme, exploring it from multiple angles and perspectives.
  2. Visual Continuity: Cohesion within a series creates a visual rhythm and familiarity for viewers, making it easier to engage with the artworks and appreciate their interconnectedness.
  3. Narrative Development: A series can tell a story or convey a narrative that unfolds progressively as viewers move through the artworks.
  4. Emotional Impact: Cohesion in a series can enhance the emotional impact of individual paintings by building on the themes and emotions explored in previous works.
  5. Artistic Growth: Creating a series challenges artists to push their creative boundaries, experiment with variations, and refine their techniques over multiple paintings.

Selecting a Theme or Concept

The first step in creating a cohesive series of oil paintings is selecting a theme, concept, or idea that resonates with the artist. This theme will serve as the common thread that ties the paintings together. Here are some considerations for choosing a theme:

  1. Personal Connection: The chosen theme should have personal significance or resonate deeply with the artist. It should be something the artist is passionate about exploring.
  2. Visual Potential: Consider whether the chosen theme offers visual diversity and potential for artistic exploration. Can it be represented in various ways and through different visual elements?
  3. Narrative or Conceptual Depth: A theme with depth and complexity can lead to a more engaging and thought-provoking series. Consider how the theme can evolve or be explored in multiple facets.
  4. Emotional Impact: Think about the emotions or messages you want to convey through the series. A powerful theme can elicit strong emotional responses from viewers.
  5. Research: Conduct research on the chosen theme to gather inspiration, references, and ideas. Understanding the subject matter in depth can enhance the quality of the series.

Establishing Cohesion

Once a theme is selected, it’s essential to establish cohesion within the series. Cohesion ensures that the paintings are visually connected and collectively convey the intended message or exploration. Here are strategies for achieving cohesion:

  1. Consistent Style: Maintain a consistent artistic style throughout the series. This includes brushwork, color palette, and overall technique. Consistency in style creates a visual signature for the series.
  2. Recurring Elements: Introduce recurring visual elements, motifs, or symbols that appear in multiple paintings. These elements can serve as visual anchors and reinforce the theme.
  3. Color Harmony: Develop a cohesive color palette that runs through the series. While variations are allowed, the colors should work together harmoniously and support the theme.
  4. Composition Guidelines: Establish composition guidelines that help maintain visual continuity. For example, you may choose a specific aspect ratio or layout structure for all the paintings.
  5. Narrative Flow: If the series tells a narrative, plan the order and arrangement of the paintings to create a logical and engaging flow for viewers.
  6. Transitional Pieces: Consider creating transitional pieces that bridge the gap between different phases or aspects of the theme. These paintings can help viewers navigate the progression of the series.
  7. Thematic Variation: While maintaining cohesion, allow for thematic variation. Explore different facets, moods, or interpretations of the theme to keep the series dynamic and engaging.

Creating a Narrative or Visual Flow

If the series is narrative-driven, artists should carefully plan the progression of the story or concept across the paintings. Each piece should contribute to the overall narrative while also standing on its own as a compelling artwork. Here are tips for creating a narrative or visual flow:

  1. Storyboard: Develop a storyboard or visual plan that outlines the sequence and relationship of the paintings. This helps maintain a coherent narrative structure.
  2. Transitions: Pay attention to how one painting transitions to the next. Smooth transitions can be achieved through visual elements or thematic connections.
  3. Emotional Arc: Consider the emotional arc of the series. How do emotions evolve or intensify as viewers progress through the paintings? Ensure that emotional resonance is built over time.
  4. Clarity and Ambiguity: Balance clarity and ambiguity in the narrative. While some elements should be clear, leaving room for interpretation can engage viewers’ imagination.
  5. Resolution: Plan for a satisfying resolution or conclusion to the narrative, where the theme’s exploration reaches a meaningful climax or endpoint.

Feedback and Iteration

Throughout the creation of the series, seek feedback from peers, mentors, or trusted individuals who can provide constructive criticism and insights. Evaluating your work from an external perspective can help refine the cohesion, narrative, and impact of the series. Be open to making adjustments and refinements as needed.


Creating a cohesive series of oil paintings is a journey of exploration and expression. It challenges artists to dive deeply into a theme, develop visual continuity, and engage viewers in a narrative or concept. A well-executed series can captivate viewers, leaving a lasting impression and conveying a profound message or exploration of the chosen theme. By selecting a meaningful theme, establishing cohesion, and carefully planning the narrative or visual flow, artists can embark on a creative journey that both challenges and rewards, ultimately leaving a lasting mark on the world of art.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *