I want to discuss the size of surface I paint on and how that affects my work. This topic was inspired by a submission that called for work in the 5” x 7” range. I missed the deadline because, as it turns out, very small paintings of landscapes aren’t that easy to do well.
I recently painted the two landscapes above. The larger painting, 12”x12”, was completed on location plein air. As the storm moved in I found it difficult to capture what I saw. Those shades of gray moved like crazy. The clouds had so much drama that it was an effort to get it down on the panel and then leave it alone. . Another weather system came my direction but behind me. I wasn’t aware of it until the white flakes started coming down which sent me scrambling to pack up. After I got home, I painted the small, 5”x 7”, in the studio relying on memory and the larger painting as reference. This smaller painting came only because I was unhappy with how I rendered the mass of clouds on the first one. The interesting thing with plein air and studio work is that you can’t duplicate or copy because it can never be the same.
I’ve always been drawn to Indian miniatures. This painting above looks big but in reality it is about 10” x 6”. The screen distorts scale so it looks much bigger. This is an early 17th c. Mughal by Abu’l Hasan and part of a larger Folio. I took the photo from a post card the Metropolitan gave out when I viewed the exhibition. It was important enough for me to bring the card with me when I moved. This otherworldly painting is a landscape of sorts and a slow read. The complex narrative offers glimpses of a moment in time with precision and detail. This piece is an example of small scale at it’s best.
It is harder to relate to scale when viewing online After all, the size of a painting relates to the human form and for me what I’m capable of physically handling. The third painting I’m showing was painted in my Brooklyn studio – where I could work large. This painting is 60” x 60,” a much bigger size than the plein air panels I’m painting on now. I painted this in 2017 as part of a series that incorporated architectural elements within a fictional landscape. No visual references, intuitively painted and more about the unseen.
Does scale make a difference? In looking at images for this post it doesn’t appear that it does. I think it’s difficult to consider this question because the screen makes all the paintings above the same size. [A topic worthy of its own discussion] Personally I enjoy painting larger but I don’t have a big indoor studio now. This post is a shout out to the God of Studios for a larger space. In the meantime I go to the great outdoors and I am happy to do so.