Large & Small

I have long wondered why some artists -whether they be painters, sculptors, photographers, or conceptual artists- choose to work large or small or perhaps somewhere in between.

Some of the considerations for working large have to do with physical mechanics and how one navigates the space of a painting. Some artists use ladders or long handled brushes to make the painting itself. There are also issues of moving large artworks around from one corner of the studio to another or storing large scale works. Painting a large painting can be terrifically liberating. It might allow the artist to open up the space of a painting in a way that a small scale piece might not. Working large could encourage a wider arc, a bigger brushstroke or greater stretches of colour. On the other hand, a large painting could be intimidating and can start to feel like being swallowed up by the enormous and cavernous space.

Artist Gary Komarin in his Connecticut StudioPainting a large painting can be terrifically liberating. It might allow the artist to open up the space of a painting in a way that a small scale piece might not. Working large could encourage a wider arc, a bigger brushstroke or greater stretches of colour. On the other hand, a large painting could be intimidating and can start to feel like being swallowed up by the enormous and cavernous space.

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Working small scale for a painter could allow for great intimacy. One can see the entire canvas in one breath and navigate the surface in minutes rather than hours. A smaller scale canvas can allow for the artist to see the whole and the parts at the same time. A large gestural stroke on a small scale canvas can feel gigantic of great power.

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For some artists, a small scale canvas can feel limiting. It may feel cramped and claustrophobic to work in such a conservative area.

Large and small are cousins on the artistic plane. There is no right or wrong to working in either size. Every artist must find their comfort level through exploration of both large and small.

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