It’s hard to believe that just two years ago, I created a small series of 2×2 paintings that I turned into magnets, given that I am currently working on 36×36 canvases. These miniature paintings were a lot of fun to create, but I have to say I like painting large pieces more. But I feel fortunate that I am able to scale my work both ways – smaller and larger, because painting small is so much different than painting large. In some ways I think painting smaller is harder than painting larger pieces.
I once heard another artist say “painting large is no different than painting small; Just use a bigger brush.” I totally disagree. When you get used to painting larger pieces, then drop down to smaller sizes, I think several things happen. While I don’t know if this is true for all artists, it definitely is for me. When I paint small, my work can get tighter, which is frustrating as I tend to prefer a looser style.
Psychologically speaking, I also think the healing benefits I get when painting large outweigh that of painting small. I can pour tremendously more emotion into a big painting than a small one, and the freedom I feel when painting large just doesn’t compare to what I feel when creating small paintings. I also find that anytime I switch gears (going small to large or large to small), I go through an adjustment period, almost as if I’ve forgotten how to paint.
In 2019, my preferred size to paint was 9×12, and I guess you could say that was my still life year. I created several abstracts that year, but mostly I was trying to work on my observational painting skills, and improve in that area. Below is a still life painting I created that year.
I have a goal of continuing to increase the size of my paintings. In my upcoming book, Abstract Painting for the Absolute Beginner, I recommend to my readers that once they become comfortable with the size they are working on, to size up, and keep doing that until they are creating a size they desire. My main size in 2019 was 9×12 and my main size in 2020 was 24×24. This year, in 2021, it looks like my main size will be 36×36, and next year my goal is to work on 48×48 canvases.
Beyond that, who knows what I will do. I think much of it will depend on if I move my studio or keep it at home. Right now my studio can only accommodate up to 60×60 paintings.
While I could definitely paint 48x48s this year, I want to grow into these larger sizes. I really think we grow accustomed to the sizes we are working on, and we build up skill in producing that size. I don’t think it’s just a matter of the size of your brush. 😉