Planning a series of paintings

I thought it would be interesting to share my process for planning a series of paintings. I am always interested in how artists create particularly Bonnard , Monet and contemporary artists such as Alice Mumford. I have found that artists develop their ideas in lots of different ways and I certainly approach a new series differently depending whether it is for an exhibition, commission, or just an exploration of ideas. I love the start of a series of work, the thoughts and ideas which develop even before my brush touches the canvas. The surprising ways in which each idea develops, changes and ends up in quite an unexpected place at times. For me the enjoyment of painting is in the process and the beginning of that with all the possibilities is possibly the best bit of all.

The spark of an idea

The inspiration for a new series of paintings can arrive in my different ways heres a list and what inspires me to paint:

Telling a story through objects, remembering a place, event or person and gathering objects which tell that story in still life.

A view, a walk, a photograph

My garden


Domestic interiors

Colours, mood and change of seasons

Exploring mark making

Other artists

Planning and developing ideas for a series of paintings


I often start pinning my sketches and photographs onto a large board so I can see everything together. I find photographing or copying the sketches and turning them into a black and white really helps with the composition and total value. I spend quite a bit of time cropping, redrawing and sometimes collaging images together to create about 5-10 workable ideas.


Colour planning and creating a colour chart helps me in the early stages, I usually decide on whether to go with an complimentary, harmonic or off compliment plan and then just create a small sheet of paper with the colours I like from dark to light tones. I then create some small rough sketches using the colours from my plan so I can get the values/tones in place.

I often create a series of work using the same image but adjusting the colour palette in a similar way to Monet’s Rouen cathedral series.

I like to create a few sketches before I start the painting as it allows me to get to know the shapes and composition and do a little bit of fine tuning!

Other ideas to explore

Creating thumbnail plans to develop the composition.

Collaging and creating textures to link your series of paintings

I find working on more than one painting really helps my work and allows me to keep the paintings in a series cohesive.