Painting Small v. Painting Large - A Beginners Tip. Part 2


Call me changeable, fickle, inconsistent... I'll even accept contradictory - because this week, after singing the praises of painting small, I am extolling the benefits of up-sizing your artworks and painting large.

Last post, I mentioned that the larger you paint, the less bogged down in detail you become, and the easier it can be to handle  your paint in those more detailed areas of your painting.

Despite this, the reason I endorse painting small, is primarily because it helps me to actually finish and even occasionally 'churn out' paintings on a regular basis.

Spending the last 18 months doing this has served a great purpose in moving me beyond my habit of prematurely casting works to one side.

But now, with a body of completed work and an exhibition behind me, I thought it was probably time to put on my big-girl pants, crack some knuckles and get on with snowballing the size of my paintings.

Tips I gleaned from painting larger:

1. Have a game plan

Know what you're going to paint and how you plan on executing it.

This is where doing a smaller study beforehand comes in handy, as it gives you a chance to practice mixing those colours, make mistakes on a small scale, and identify possible problem areas before you commit the time and paint required to go large. 

2. Painting larger doesn't always mean painting for longer

This was a great and welcome revelation to me, and should serve as encouragement for any of you considering a size increase in your work.

All things being equal, if you've followed Step One, have your colours mixed and know how you plan on putting them down, then the increase in painting time may only be one and a half times what your smaller study painting took to do.

3. When standing back to review, take larger steps

As I have previously recommended, regularly stand at a distance from your painting to get a clearer picture of how it's coming together. The larger the painting, the better it is to increase this distance. Getting overly focused on fine details happens regardless of the size of a piece, and this is really the best way to prevent overworking a painting, and spotting any issues early.

4. Just get on with it

A blank canvas can be daunting at any size. Make a mark on it, and then another, and before you know it you're on your way!

I am yet to discover if there is an ideal 'rate of growth' to work with - in terms of jumping from one size to the next, but I'll keep playing about with increasing the scale of my paintings, and let you know what I discover. If any readers out there have insights on this, I'd be keen to hear them.

Yours changeably – or not,


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