Researching your next series of artwork

Before I jump into my next art project its important for me to research my potential subjects thoroughly. Hopefully, this will then lead to a more developed series of paintings and a fuller sense of unity. One of my first considerations is to decide if its an interesting and vibrant enough project to work on and secondly, that there's enough content to last a full series of up to 15 different paintings/pieces.

If you've been keeping tabs on my Facebook page you'll see how I've just come back from a trip to Rhodes in Greece. I knew from the moment we booked the holiday that it would be perfect material for my next series. Just imagine (like I did) all the old temple ruins. The temple of Athena, Zeus, Apollo and so on.. my imagination is happy just thinking about the possibilities, plus I can't help but think back to all the old Sinbad films I used to watch when I was younger! I knew they'd also be ancient castle forts, lush mountainous regions, miles of unspoilt coastline and magical whitewashed villages. Whilst I was there, I found the smells, sounds and tastes amazing too, from honey drizzled Baklava to sweet Rhodian wine and herb tea (Lemon Verbena is my new favourite) to the sound of noisy crickets in the countryside.

While I was away I kept to a solid, straightforward plan of taking a million (or so!) photographs, carefully discarding any duplicates or rubbish ones which helped to free up more space on my precious memory card. I do think its best to make sure you have plenty of storage space for all your pictures so taking a couple of memory cards is a really good idea.

Quick sketch of Rhodes Old Town (May '14)
As you visit different places and soak in the atmosphere its the perfect opportunity to sketch. Its also great to be able to re-read your holiday guidebook as well as all those museum/temple site leaflets you get given.

Now I'm home I will continue my research so I have a good overall knowledge of all the places I've visited. At the moment I'm googling greek architecture until I feel satisfied that I've immersed myself in my subject matter enough. I have also managed to pick up a couple of books from my local charity shops (crazily enough!!) on the Byzantium medieval empire and Greek Mythology. Amazon is another great alternative too.

After this I will continue to make small thumbnail drawings trying out different ideas, subjects and compositions. For my next series I really want to push the boat out and incorporate a few different Greek based themes. Before reaching for the canvas though I'll start some larger drawings, experimenting with different materials and media. Its always important for my work to have its own unique and distinctive style and hopefully all this initial research will make sure I'm never short of ideas.

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