Showing posts with label miniature paintings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label miniature paintings. Show all posts

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Big and Small

Can you think big and still paint small?

It’s time again for Wilde Meyer’s annual Gem Show, the show of smaller paintings by many of the gallery’s artists. For most of us, this is a change from our regular formats, and small paintings present their own challenges.

When I started thinking about my own paintings, large and small, and looking at some of the other participating artists, I began to consider that we tend to keep our same style and subject matter, but we have to make some changes to succeed in this smaller context. 

Time for a Walk, 11.5"x14.5" by Judy Feldman
Time for a Walk 11.5"x14.5" oil on canvas
by Judy Feldman


I love to paint interiors. I just finished one called “Interior with Red Chair.” But I couldn’t just shrink it! In my Gem Show painting, entitled “Time for a Walk.” I think I conveyed feeling of an inviting place, but with fewer elements. And, of course, the dog got smaller (by walking off the canvas!) With “A Christmas Surprise,” I purposely created a small image, focusing mainly on the new puppy in the box.

Bandit 4"x4" acrylic on canvas
by Ryan Hale
Ryan Hale finds small paintings challenging in a different way. Since he is an abstract artist, he likes to work freely and intuitively.

Ryan likes to interpret patterns of aerial views of landscapes. He’s fascinated by how land is divided, especially when seen from above, where civilization and nature both co-exist and collide. You can appreciate his intentions in these larger paintings entitled “Daily Intervals,” which measures 60”X72”, and “The Forming Earth,” which is 36”X36.”

So, when it came time to do some 12”X12” paintings, Ryan decided to work on several at once, so they would be related and could be hung together in different orientations. While he was painting them, he would move them around. “It’s a challenge, like creating a puzzle,” he said. “I takes a lot of thought to get a strong enough image on a small canvas.”

Structure IV 12"x12" acrylic on canvas
by Ryan Hale
I think these two small paintings, entitled “Structure III" and "Structure IV" are very successful. They reflect Ryan’s considered style and thoughtful color selections, and work well as a single unit or together. He also included a figurative painting, “Bandit,” which probably comes from another part of his creative brain!
Structure III 12"x12" acrylic on canvas
by Ryan Hale

Along the High Road oil on canvas 26"x41.75"
by Leigh Gusterson
Leigh Gusterson does beautiful expressionist paintings of the landscape around her Taos, New Mexico home. Often, a blue truck is driving through the vibrant scene, with a dog hanging out the back, such as “Along the High Road” (26”X41.75”) and “Fall Showers” (27”X27”). Her colors are delicious!
 
Taos Mountain Sunset  6.25"x9.25"
by Leigh Gusterson
Glorious Tree in Pilar 5.25"x9.25"
by Leigh Gusterson
Leigh also shares her love of the New Mexico landscape in her small paintings, but on a more intimate scale. In “Glorious Tree in Pilar,” we see Leigh’s truck journeying through the road, but we’re closer, and the flame red tree just pulls us into the 4”X 8” painting. I’m really impressed with “Rancho Sheep.” Leigh gets so much information in a tiny 4”X6” format, all in perfect proportion. “Taos Mountain Sunset”, a 5”X 8” painting, gives us the full beauty of the scene, yet we do feel closer to it than when we view her larger work.


Gem Show 2012
Gem Show 2012

You might be a bit overwhelmed when you see the wall of small paintings at the Gem Show. But it’s worth taking the time to look carefully, and ask Laura, Ryan or Jonathan to show the ones you like by themselves. It’s challenging to paint small, but the result is really a “gem!”

Gem Show 2012, miniature paintings
Gem Show 2012

Monday, December 12, 2011

Big Art, Small Art

Wilde Meyer Gallery, "The Gem Show" Scottsdale, December 2011
Unless you’re a miniaturist, painting in a small format can be challenging. Certainly, abstract painters prefer a large canvas. Since there are no figurative images, they need the size to make a powerful statement with form, composition and color. But painters who employ realism also have to rethink their skills: they have to simplify and create a way to draw the viewer into a small space.


If you’re used to working with large brushes or palette knives, it can be weird to switch to a small brush. Since I don’t use very large brushes, this doesn’t present a problem. For me, it’s more about choosing subject matter that will work in a small space, and creating a composition that’s the right scale. I wondered what other Wilde Meyer artists had to say about making small paintings, and since the gallery has its annual Gem Show up right now, I decided to call a few people.

Back of the Sierras  18"x14"

First, I spoke with Judith D'Agostino, who lives in Santa Fe. She had been an abstract painter, but began plein air painting in 2005. She committed to doing a painting a day, so she started taking small canvases on her trips to paint landscapes.

Italian Landscape, 12"x18"
“There is a learning curve to painting small,” she said. “You need to simplify and create an intimate environment. But it’s a useful exercise to paint on a small scale, and these paintings often become ideas for larger ones.”
What Are You Looking At? 7"x5"
When she’s painting small, Judith often turns to another subject. In this painting, entitled “What Are You Looking At?,” she’s used a canvas that’s 7” X 5” and "Taking a Break" that's 6" X 8". 

Taking a Break, 6"x8"





Desert Dreams (left) 6"x6"
Fancy (right) 5"x5"
 
 Suzanne Betz, a painter from Taos, alternates between small and large paintings. "Changing the size exercises my creativity,” she says. “That way, I don’t get locked into one mode of painting. My smaller pieces are intimate and open to interpretation by the viewer.”



Suzanne uses mixed media, painting in water-soluble mediums on drafting film. She can cut the film to any size, so she can quickly select the format she wants. Her goal is to achieve transparency, and she works in many layers. These small paintings, which measure 6”X6” and 5”X5,” are covered with plexiglass, which add another layer to her work.
Quiet Time,  7"x9"

Connecting Heaven and Earth 5"x7"
When I talked with Deb Komitor, who lives in Colorado Springs, she said that she’d rather paint “huge,” but her car isn’t big enough! So, I guess practicality also enters into the equation.  Like Suzanne, Deb enjoys switching back and forth, between large and small paintings. She, too, says it gets the creative juices flowing.

The Protector 39.5"x11.75"



“By varying the painting sizes, the rhythm of my painting process keeps changing. It keeps me from getting stale and repetitious, since I use different images and the paint application is different.”

Honoring Joy 7"x5"
Deb paints mainly on wood – she uses panel boards for her small format work, and actually paints on wood doors for her large pieces (I guess she borrows someone’s truck). She recently painted a series of small pieces in an iconic style, which she says is her “way of honoring these animals.”

You can see this technique in her beautiful hummingbird painting called “Honoring Joy,” which measures 7”X 5”, as well as “Connecting Heaven and Earth,” which measures 5”X7.” Both birds have the gold halo that is inherent in icon paintings.

Down Low 12" x 12"
 
Mama and Baby Bear 7"x5"

Tracy Miller also lives in Colorado Springs, and enjoys painting wildlife. Her expressionistic style and love of color make her work quite unique.

She starts with an abstract painting, getting colors to vibrate off one another. Then an image comes to mind, and as she defines it, an animal is created! You can see an example of her technique in this small painting of bears called “Mama and Baby Bear,” above, as well as the buffalo in “Buffalo Study 47,” shown below.

Buffalo Study 47,   5"x7"

Tracy likes to “mix things up,” painting in larger and smaller formats.

“The small pieces are great for first-time collectors,” she says. “It’s important to introduce your work to people at an affordable price. Also, painting small is instant gratification!”




From these artists’ comments, I guess you could say that working in a small format is both liberating and limiting. I’m going to end this blog now, so I can face the challenge of a small painting!