Creative Block and Working in a Series

It can be a struggle coming up with subjects to paint. That's why I like painting in a series. Once I start a series, things seem to roll along.

Painting one-offs are a problem for me because when I finish that piece, I can get stuck. My mind is like a car that stalls at every red light.

When I find a subject that's interesting and broad enough for me to make into a series, I don't waste precious painting time in search of a subject.

Often though, when I finish a series, I start doing one-offs again. I'll find a subject for a day and then get stuck the next day. Inadvertently, I do this for a while until I find a subject that grabs me.

Just a few weeks ago, I was in this in-between phase again and what transpired is a good example of how sometimes, I come across a new subject accidentally.

For a few weeks, I had been painting various interiors or small still life scenes. But they weren't turning into a series despite my efforts. This is partly due to a lack of related source material. When working from photographs, I like to use my own so if I don't have suitable images, I get stuck.

One morning, I was at loss for what to paint as I walked into my studio. I noticed a dried tea bag on a dish that I forgot to clean up the night before and reached to throw it away. At that moment, I realized it was an interesting little object.

Two weeks have gone by and I have painted a whole tea series - mostly tea bags, but some mugs and tea tins as well.



I have learned a surprising amount about tonal values, light and reflected light from silly little tea bags. I've moved on to paint some other things around the kitchen but I think I'll stay on the tea for a while longer.

Then I'll get tired of it and the whole process will start again!


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