What Does a Body of Work Look Like?
What does a Body of Work look like. What is a "body" of work? Why is it important?
When I was working towards my masters degree in drawing and painting I finally realized the importance of creating a group of paintings (and drawings, at the time) that have a similarity to them. They either follow a theme, a color scheme, a subject, a technique or possibly a use of line, etc. Usually this tends to happen naturally over a period of time, but many times it does not.
When you have a show or are a featured artist at a gallery, the fact that a visual theme is present shows a maturity in your art. It shows that you have worked to perfect your work and experiment with a certain range of skill or expression. When you put the art together in one gallery, one room, or on one wall it makes an unmistakable statement. As an example, in 2014 I named my show "Bloomin' Hot".
The paintings were all done with very warm colors. The collection of reds, oranges, yellows and pinks certainly made a statement. The paintings that I did were painted, poured, large, small, complicated, simple - but all were done in those yummy warm colors. I now have increased knowledge and skill in using these colors. I tried all of the warm side of the palette to a point of confidence.
So many times I have seen artist shows that seem to be a hodge-podge collection of paintings. Sadly sometimes the works have been seen over and over again with no rhyme or reason to the selection other than " this is what I've got."
If you have a show or featured artist show coming up I have a suggestion or two.
Why not collect together what you think you want to show, line them up and look at them with fresh eyes. Look for a connecting element. Maybe the connection is they are all barns. Get all the barn paintings together and take the others out. Look at them again. Look to see what is missing. Maybe all of the barns are either in the middle or to the right. Then do a painting for this collection of a barn on the left or some different angle. Are they all the same season? Maybe they are mostly fall paintings. Then do a winter scene or one at night. Maybe all the barns are red. Do a new painting where the barn in old and brown, falling apart, or white.
Next check your frames. Nothing is nastier than to have a new show open and the frames are dusty and there are fingerprints on the glass. Check the dust paper on the back. Does it need replacing because it is old and cracking? Is the matte yellowed or faded? Change it. Are there chips in the frame from moving it around? Fix them. Make sure that the frame enhances the art. If the colors of the matte or the frame clash with the painting, better to put the painting in a clear folder for purchase.
You should be there to assist in the arrangement of your work or hang it yourself or at the very least be there before the show to make changes if needed. Check the lighting. Don't let your body of work be split up and spread throughout a space. If you do, you lose the impact of your art on the viewer.
So you add the new couple of paintings to your collection and you have a logical theme. When you have a theme it is easier to write a press release about it. It is easier to give it a name, it is easier to talk about it when people come to the show and talk to you about your work. You make sure that your art is clean and sharp in its presentation. Put your best foot forward for your audience. If you don't show that you care about your art why should they care about it. And last, have a hand in how it will appear to the customer coming in and entering your space; Paintings are hung to show off your best work, not hanging crooked, not dusty or dirty, properly lighted and inviting.
Now you can proudly display your "Body of Work"
Have a great show!!