Saturday, February 16, 2008

How Small Can You Go?

Just in case you're wondering how small one can go with panel size, I offer the following. It is a 3x3 oil painting. (What's next? you may wonder. Painting on the head of a pin?)

"View from the Studio with Apple Trees"
3x3, oil, de la fenĂȘtre - SOLD

There's a benefit to painting this small. You can't paint detail.

As you know, detail is, quite literally, the last thing you should be concerned about when you're painting. Ninety percent of your work on a painting should deal with big shapes. Leave detail for the last 10%. Too many painters, especially those who want to paint in a more "painterly" way, get too soon into the detail.

To train yourself, the usual trick is to use a bigger brush on whatever size canvas you're used to painting on. Unfortunately, short of locking up the small brushes and mailing the key to a trusted friend overseas, it's tough. Small brushes have a way of finding their way back into your grip all too easily.

So here's a second approach. Shrink the format. Go as small as you can comfortably see to work on. I find 3x3 is a wonderful size, and you don't have to lock up the small brushes. I used two brushes on this one, a #4 and a #2 flat.

Working this small really forces you to think of the big shapes. Work with broad strokes and be bold with color. Your goal: Get the value and color relationships right.

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