Monday, May 30, 2011

Size Counts

Escalante After the Rain 24 x 36
Most water media artists work relatively small. Oil painters seem to go from the ridiculously small little miniatures to fairly large. Those creative minds that transfer their imaginations to canvas and panel with acrylic seem to paint LARGE by in large. When I first went back to painting as a way to entertain myself and rehabilitate (practice what you don't want to lose) following my head injury I was overly fond of 11 x 14 and working on watercolor paper. I dreamed of half-sheet and full-sheet paintings.

Once I made the jump to watercolor canvas I fell in love with the 16 x 20 size. I was using pre-stretched canvases at the time and when there was a sale brought several at 20 x 24 and 24 x 36. I stared at the larger size for quite a while. Escalante After the Rain was one of the only 24 x 36 paintings I have done. This was due in part to the warping of almost all that were shipped to me except this one. Inferior pre-stretched canvases led me to stretching my own canvases and changing proportions. I rather like tall and thin or short and wide. I executed a commission that was 26 x 72. The two below are 12 x 48,

So I proved to myself that the medium is not necessarily the governor of size. Sometimes it is time or size of brushes or space in the studio. Or the cost of not merely the materials but the finished product. Lately it has been the economy that has dictated size of paintings. I entered an exhibition this spring that had a minimum size specification as well as a maximum. Artists have been painting smaller to have more reasonably priced work for the market. My booth at last year's Holiday fair in Albuquerque was filled with smaller works. I even did 6 x 6 cactus flowers.

As I was gathering up work for a new gallery, Old Town Gallery in Cimarron,  and the June exhibition at High Desert Art and Frame in Albuquerque I became aware of the vast number of smaller works I did have. Too many really. Any display of an artist's paintings should be a range. And as my artist friend, Sherry Wolf, pointed out as we were talking about Artsfest in July, there is something to be said of a bigger center of attraction. All the new work I had been doing for summer fairs were smaller. Some I even considered studies for larger paintings if they worked.

Water Passage 19 x 13
But with the whole car issue and the economy small fits my budget. Then a couple days ago I found an old framed acrylic painting at a thrift shop. it was 24 x 36 and was on great sturdy stretcher bars (the bigger the painting the more sturdy the stretcher bars must be). For $5 I got a good frame to put on the Escalante painting in the beginning of this post. Escalante, which I had never seen as quite finished, got its completion as well as the frame, And once the old canvas was ripped off my thrift shop find I had a great frame for new canvas.

Yesterday I completed the enlargement of the Water Passage sketch to 36 x 24 and got the canvas stretched. Hopefully it will be my center piece for the New Mexico Arts and Crafts Fair in June. And it will sell and I have to come up with a new center piece for Artsfest in July. I won't have to paint any more small pieces before fair season. I seem to have a plethora of those.


  1. Jacqui your work is so extraordinarily beautiful. If I could write as well as you paint...I would be in heaven. Salud to you and your success.

  2. Wonderful paintings, Jacqui. I especially like "Water Passage".
    Watercolour seems to me to be an intimate medium best suited to smaller scale works whereas oil colour is more suited to the monumental... Acrylic can straddle both camps as it can be worked like il or like watercolour. I enjoy painting large works in oil with the largest I attempted being a 4m by 1.5 m triptych!

  3. A local oil/acrylic painter friend has shared similar thoughts to yours here, especially about the economy and people unwilling and not wanting to pay the cost of a larger but often more stunning work because of it. She too has resorted to more creative means to find canvases to her liking, finding several old canvases in good condition that she can always rework and paint over.

    Agreeing with others here, your paintings of 'Water Passage' and 'Escalante After the Rain' are simply stunning, no matter what the size. :)

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed your blog. Beautiful photographs!


I appreciate all kind comments on my art and poetry.