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Monday, March 12, 2012

What are the Benefits of Painting Small Studies?

'West Across the Ocean' 8x10 pastel ©Karen Margulis

I happen to love painting small. Big is fun too but I get so many benefits from painting in smaller formats that it is very much a part of my way of working. For one thing doing smaller paintings allows me to bring my pastels along when my usual supplies would be too cumbersome like on my recent cruise. (Read about my lounge chair plein air set up here) It was so easy to put my supplies in a small bag and sit in a lounger to paint.
But another great way to make use of smaller formats is to use them for small and quick plein air field studies. I am talking about very small 2.5 x 3.5 inch field studies! Usually when I paint en plein air, 5x7 is the smallest size paper I use. On my cruise I decided to try some field studies on my 2.5 x 3.5 paper. The small size of the paper forced me to simplify the scene. There isn't any room to fiddle so I was able to work quickly and efficiently. I can now use these small studies to develop larger works in the studio. I have all the information I need...colors, values, composition ideas and best of all the study reminds me of what I felt when I painted the scene.

small field study 2.5 x 3.5 pastel
Today's painting was done from this small field study that I completed on my cruise while the ship was out to sea. (see above) I used the same paper for both (Canson Touch) but at home I had all of my pastels at my disposal so I was able to get more complex color. I like the freshness of the study but the 8x10 captures the darkness and turbulence of the sea. We had 18 foot seas and gale force winds for most of the cruise!
I plan on using this small size from now on for my outdoor field studies. I'd love to hear your ideas for the use of small format paintings!


Michelle Wells Grant said...

These teensy little paintings are amazing! I'm in awe that you can create something so beautiful on a 2.5 x 3.5 paper! How I'd love to see you in action!

Karen said...

Thank you!! It is really so much fun to do these minis. I hope you try some :)