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Monday, October 01, 2012

Why You Shouldn't Avoid Painting Larger

'Morning Mystery'         16x20       pastel     ©Karen Margulis
available through Daily Paintworks  $225
I love painting small. My favorite size is probably 5x7 and I love to do smaller 2.5 x 3.5 paintings.  I find small paintings to be faster and it is easy to simplify in a small space.  But every once in awhile I break out a big piece of paper.  16x20 is a good large size but I enjoy 18x24 as well. The largest pastel I ever painted was 24x36.  My students groan when I ask them to paint large. Last week I asked them why.

'Morning Light'     2.5 x 3.5    pastel study
The biggest reason they gave me was the expense of the paper and the fear of messing up a good piece of big paper.  I can understand this and this may be holding you back from painting large as well. I want to convince you that working larger than usual every once in awhile is worth the risk and expense.  Why?

  • Painting larger gives you freedom. It is much more physical and you can really get your whole body involved in the painting process. It is a lot of fun!
  • Painting larger allows you to loosen up. With big sweeping strokes you can block in those big simple shapes with ease.  You can decide if you want to leave the painting more abstract or if you want more detail.
  • Painting larger allows you to work on compositions that are more complex and that might not look good in a smaller format. You can take your time and develop more detail if that is what you like.
As for the expense and fear of a failed painting....I recommend looking at it in a new way. You will never waste the paper.  If the painting cannot be saved it can always be brushed off or you can find smaller paintings within the painting to crop out.  
There is never a waste of paper, only a learning experience.  And you might just end up with a great large painting!


Vanessa said...

Ha! I'm guilty of this too! For me I'm afraid of "wasting time". I feel like if I mess up on a large piece of work then I've wasted all of the time it took to get there. Though now I'm learning to think otherwise. Minis lead to faster rewards (little patience) but I must say that when I finish a large piece it's a great feeling!

Karen said...

That's another good reason! I find that I paint fast when I paint larger....maybe bigger strokes?

Anonymous said...

One of my first drawing instructors told the class "it's only paper and MOMA isn't out in the hall waiting to see what you produce". Yes the paper may be expensive but be bold anyway, you will always have the experience to learn from.