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Thematic Development

When speaking of art, thematic development refers to the creation of a series of works that are related by subject and have an idea or image in common.

There are many reasons one should develop a series of drawings based on a single theme. Perhaps the most important reason is that the emphasis in thematic drawings falls on the execution of the art -- the process of creation rather than the product. Thematic drawings allow the artist to express more ideas and variations of those ideaas than would normally be possible in a single work.

Try the exercises below. While creating a series of works, you'll notice that thematic drawings help to create solidity within the expression of your ideas. You'll be able to see how many distinct compositional and stylistic variations can be used to portray one subject or meaning. You'll also see that thematic drawings allow you to get into your own work deeply, with more involvement and greater concentration.

Exercise 1

Choose one object to appear in each drawing of your series. Juxtapose distinct objects with that constant object. Try placing a second object that will void or amplify the constant object. The second object could cancel out the meaning of the thematic object, or it could be used to highlight the meaning.

Exercise 2

Visual narration is a common theme in many series. Consider using a common object within your works to tell a story. You can establish your own language of personally created symbols, or work with pre-existing symbols. Be sure to use common objects to convey the meaning.