Let’s face it. There are few people who are not inspired when they walk into a museum or cathedral and face a giant painting depicting a well-known scene. I have been brought to tears when I’ve been overwhelmed with some exhibits.
But that is not always the case. Most people cannot accommodate a wall-size painting or afford one. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t like real art nonetheless.
Over the years I have created and sold paintings of many sizes. Some pretty large ones but most have been medium size. And I’ve sold a whole lot of small pieces.
There are pros and cons with creating small paintings. On one hand, larger paintings are immensely fun to create, taking that large brush and swishing it across a wall-size canvas. But they are also much more difficult to sell due to the size.
Small painting have many advantages, too. They are a good way to try out new ideas, materials and techniques. They are very portable. You can just pick them up and move them around your home, or transport them easily. They are also economical to create since they use less materials.
I’ve used small paintings to make preliminary compositions and try out various mediums. Some of the mediums that I’ve used are drawing, watercolor, pen and ink, acrylic, oil, etching, collage and prints. The most common has been watercolor with pen and ink overlay for the details. These are usually on medium weight (140 pound) imported watercolor paper.
Small paintings were also my bread and butter when I used to travel the country for art show, earning back the booth fees and traveling expenses. At one time, I painted a series of over forty different fruits, vegetables and flowers, each hand-painted and individually matted. These were all 4 x 6, matted to 8 x 10, and either framed or inserted into glassine envelopes. I initially hand-cut the mats but eventually found sources for ready-cut mats, backs and the envelopes. This made the whole process so much more efficient.
These days, the primary size of the small paintings are 4.5 x 6.5 plus a border for matting. Very easy to assemble. BUT…I also create 4 x 6 size painted postcards. These are so fun. I cut out a bunch, maybe 100 of that size. I take them with me on my travels, make quick original sketches, and then mail them back to friends. Surprisingly, all of the postcards have arrived safely at their destinations and my friends are so surprised.
Some of the tiniest paintings that I have created are 2 x 2 and 2 x 3. These are cute and fun but I have to specially cut the mats. Unless I want to order a bunch of ready-mades, I just don’t do that too often anymore.
One thing that I would like to point out is that all of my small paintings are originals, not prints. If you are buying these on the market, make sure what you are getting. Many small paintings are digitally reproduced, either on paper or printed on canvas. The artist may add a swipe of paint in order to call them original but they’re not really. Just pay attention
I still enjoy making larger paintings, mostly for the challenge. But I would certainly recommend that you give small paintings a try. They’re great for experimenting with new ideas and compositions without having to put an excessive amount of time into them. And they can be attractively priced if you’re planning to sell them.
Good luck and let me know how they turn out if you experiment with this option.