Why produce a series of paintings?

Lisa David, The Chase

Lisa David, The Chase, 16″ x 20″. Remember chasing the ice cream man with your dollar?

We all have them – our personal favorite painting, the baby, the one painting you were born to paint! Sometimes, we get lucky. Perfect combination of subject, composition, value structure, color harmony – it just works. That one painting may inspire an entire series. Before you know it, your authentic self as a painter, your style, shows itself. That’s what happened to me. The Chase is a painting of two kids wearing nothing but swim trunks chasing an ice cream truck. Everyone remembers the excitement of hearing the ice-cream truck’s song fill the neighborhood. “ICE CREAM MAN!”, we would scream, then run to find loose change and hope he didn’t get away. That painting has set the course for most of my work since. Childhood memories infiltrate everything I paint. If you are struggling with finding your voice and distinguishing yourself as an artist, maybe your favorite painting can be an inspiration for a series.

Below: Images from the “Summer as it was…” series.

Over the past five years, I have immersed myself into several series of paintings rooted in memory, specifically childhood memories. They have produced enough work for galleries, shows and studio sales. I’ve done a series of 70 small paintings about summer in the 1960’s and 1970’s; a series of ten summer drinks from the 1960’s and 1970’s; a series of 28 paintings of family on a 28-day road trip in 1972. Currently, I am working on a series of 12 paintings about school in the era of Dick and Jane.

 

Below: Images from the “Summer Refreshment” series.

pinklemonade

Frozen Pink Lemonade, 10″ x 10″ Oil on panel Remember the sound the frozen lemonade concentrate would make as it left the can and the stickiness it made all over the counter?

coke and a smile

Coke and a Smile. 10″ x 10″ Oil on panel Remembering just how refreshing an ice cold Coke can be.

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(Mr. Harvey’s) Suntea , 10″ x 10″ Oil on panel My 5th grade teacher made us suntea in a big glass jar. It would marinate in the window all morning long. We drank it out of little Dixie papercups.

Tubosoda

Tub O’ Soda, 10″ x 10″ Oil on panel That time I won a green raft for the 3-legged race at my Dad’s company picnic. There were tubs of soda like I had never seen before!

Prior to painting, I threw pots. Lots of pots. I was a production potter throwing hundreds of pounds of clay a week fulfilling orders for gift shops all over the country and abroad. I had 18 sales reps selling my wares at wholesale prices which barely left any profit for all my hard work. My passion turned to excruciating work and before I knew it, I resented dry hands, sore back and the constant hum of my pottery wheel. I barely slept. Something had to change. I decided to paint. Years later, the same principles that helped me produce shelves of pottery helped me produce series of paintings.

Lisa David Summer of 72 poster image

Lisa David, Summer of 72 A family goes on a 28 day roadtrip; Some real memories, some imagined.

It’s satisfying to complete a body of work, a series of paintings. It feels good to have paintings for galleries, shows and sales. It also feels good to tell people what you are working on. Here are a few tips to help you if you want to tackle a series of paintings:

  1. Determine the number, size and subject of a series. Set parameters about when you will finish (a painting a day, season, month). Pick a good number, then use social media, blog, etc. so others can follow your journey. Make it a realistic number. The summer I painted one a day was a huge commitment.
  2. Source items if you’re doing still-lifes or take photo references combined with observational work. I keep a sketchbook and draw thumbnails for each image. I have bought a few rather bizarre things off eBay to paint, like an old metal ice-cube maker, pick-up stick game, even an old orange life preserver!
  3. Have gumption and stay with the idea until it is complete even if you doubt your skills and subject. I use the word “GUMPTION” as my mantra and listen to the Hans Zimmer song Gumption from the movie The Holiday! It keeps me painting through anything. There were times when I thought, am I nuts painting Tang, cinnamon toast or Yodels? I may be nuts, but at least I’m being authentic.
  4. Contact venues for showing your latest series. Tell people what you are painting.
  5. Set up for success: order supplies to see it through, clean your studio before you start, plan times to paint, tell your family that you’ve decided to make the commitment. Take the series seriously.
  6. Enjoy every second – painting is the good stuff!
  7. And remember, if something is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you will find an excuse.

Happy Painting…and give Gumption a try!

Tub O’ Soda

Tubosoda

Tub O’ Soda, 10″ x 10″ Oil on gessobord

dadlog

lisaraft

Original page from Michne Camping Log, 1971

My father kept our camping log all the years we camped. This page has the story of the day I won the “floating mattress!”

It was July 16, 1971. The perfect summer day as I recall. My father was hosting the annual work picnic. I won a green raft that day for my athletic ability in the egg race! It was my biggest claim to fame as a 9 year old. I remember reaching into a tub of iced cold soda with what seemed like every variety ever invented. It was sheer heaven- all the FREE SODA I could drink! Pull the ring tab- wear it on your finger for a bit before carelessly dropping it somewhere in the grass. Take that long first sip…..ahhhhhhhhhh. Life was good.

 

Who’s Thirsty?

garden hose

Who’s Thirsty? 10″ x 10″ Oil on Gessobord

We didn’t have water bottles- there was no sippy box, pouch or fancy energy drink. If you were outside playing, and you were thirsty, you would simply turn on the spigot, bend down a bit, wait for about 10 seconds until the cold water reached the end of the hose, then take a long, long gulp swallowing, swallowing and swallowing. Of course, you would then offer the hose to the next sweaty, out of breath neighborhood friend. If you were on your game that day, you might remember to turn off the hose. Or, your father might step in  huge puddle and yell out ” Who left the dam hose on?”

Cherry Kool-Aid

cherry koolaid

Cherry Kool-Aid, 10″ x 10″ Oil on Gessobord

Making Kool-Aid was hit-or-miss. First, you had to have packet. Chances are, we didn’t have enough sugar to fill the measuring cup. Next, to find the pitcher- (dump out whatever old drink was brewing in that!) After accidentally snorting the unsweetened powder when you opened it, get your spoon, add sugar, stir, then pray that you would have ice in the ice-cube maker! If all was right with the world, you would have the perfect sugary cup of cherry Kool-Aid. All in a summer’s days work!

Frozen Pink Lemonade

pinklemonade

Frozen Pink Lemonade

After  ripping  the plastic strip off the can, removing the aluminum disk from  the end, I would hold that can for a few seconds then wait for the “scccuuuupppppp” sound as the plop of pink creamy ice fell into the pitcher. I remember being in such a hurry to make it that filling 3 whole cans of water seemed like an eternity. The sticky, gooey mess would be left on the counter, along with whatever utensil could find to make it. Then, after selecting a glass as impressive as this pink drink, I would find the perfect spot to enjoy it. The ritual involved with pink lemonade hasn’t changed much and while buying a carton may seem easier, there is something about the canned frozen pink lemonade that remains  my prefered method of classic, summer-must enjoyment.

(Mr. Harvey’s) Suntea

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(Mr. Harvey’s) Suntea

Mr. Harvey was my 5th grade teacher at Skano Elementary. He was the best. We made sawdust puppets, paper mache bowls and something using the wish bones from chicken bones. At the time, during the early 70’s, he was definitely ahead of the curve on “student engagement”.   I remember outside our classroom, he had this mysterious jar with the most beautiful colors.  He poured us all a cup in a little Dixie paper cup (after he added mint!). What teacher does this??? Every summer, I try to recreate the taste of that tea. After 40+ years, I think I nailed it!  Here’s the recipe: Put 8 or so tea bags in a glass jar, add water. Next add peaches, strawberries, an orange slice and a bit of lemon. Let it seep all day. Add a teaspoon or two of real sugar, add ice cubes with a sprig of mint, and there you go, Mr. Harvey’s Suntea!

Matchboxes and Spoons

Underthedeck

Underneath the deck at 10 Evergreen was magical. All you needed was a spoon and a Matchbox and before you knew it, an entire town was created! My brothers were experts at sneaking spoons out of the house. Spoons made the best roads, and let’s admit it, they did the work of the backhoe and bulldozer! The sand was great under the deck-perfect for easy construction. Of course, there were a few boulders (pebbles), rivers (rain dripping through the slots) and the the occasional heat blast (the dryer vent), but overcoming those obstacles is what made the pastime exciting.

RED raspberries!

Lisa David Red Raspberries

Red Raspberries, 6″ x 6″ Oil on gesso board

Red Raspberries

I never knew growing up that there were such things as black raspberries and red raspberries….I just thought raspberries. Even though I loved Stewarts black raspberry ice-cream, I thought all raspberries were the same! The window for ripe raspberries is slim in New York. I found out recently, my father has some growing in his backyard, most likely from a bird dropping its seeds! I always feel like a thief scoping out neighbors yards or the sides of the roads for raspberries. Little did I know they were in my back yard all along! Here’s to the raspberry…red & black…living in harmony!