Sunday, June 20, 2010

Working larger

As a change from some of the tight work and printing that I've been doing lately, I felt the need to start something large in oils.  This is what's currently on my easel.  Its 12" x 36" and of a capelin.  Yes, yet another fish...

The scale of paintings in the 21st century are much smaller than those in the 17th or 18th centuries which often were 6 or 7 feet long and perhaps 3 or 4 feet wide.  The size of houses and available wall space make it more difficult to hang very large pieces and pricing would be prohibitive for the artist and the buyer.

There are good and bad aspects of working larger.  Its very freeing in many ways and allows me to slap on paint that I would normally used in a more controlled way.  The sheer act of using larger brushes prevents me from focusing on detail. Standing back from the piece is crucial to make it become believeable.  When you're on top of something large that you're working on, you don't see easily what isn't working, so moving back 8 or 10 feet at frequent intervals helps me make sure that what I'm painting isn't skewed.

When working on a larger scale, the painting becomes very abstract, as it is just values and colours and I sometimes forget just what I am painting, hence the importance of stepping back often from it.  In this case, instead of filling a larger canvas with images and background, I choose to simply make the focus a single object on a larger scale.

Scaling up an initial drawing can be done several ways.  I choose to use a projector to enlarge to this scale, simply to save time.  And before someone wades in on the 'is a projector cheating' argument; no, it isn't.  I see it as a tool to help save me time, not draw for me.

Of course more paint is used on a larger canvas and the canvas itself more expensive, but it shouldn't deter anyone from trying something larger. Sales and use of student grade paints can overcome economics if you really want to try larger scale pieces.

It will take more time to paint a larger canvas and if you're one for instant gratification, then large paintings won't be your idea of fun.  Errors in your initial drawing will become magnified on a larger scale and what you could get away with on a small canvas won't stand up to scrutiny on a large one.

12 x 36 isn't that large, but suits my purposes for today.  I have much larger canvases sitting and waiting for the right piece to go on them.  However I do like the long horizontal or vertical formats that this size canvas enables.

How large are your paintings?  How large would you like to go?


Margaret Ryall said...

Looking good Jeanette. I'm always thinking about painting larger but never seem to get to it.

I like the abstract quality of the close up shot. As for the projector usage- you'll never get a negative comment from me! Tools are tools. People who have issues with such things usually have a very limited view of art overall.

Jonathan "Blade" Manning said...

I like to work 24"x36". I find that to be just the right size for my little brain to keep track of the composition. Much larger than that and I'll completely forget what I was doing on the other end of the canvas. I would love to watch you do one of these in time lapse on your YouTube channel!

Jennifer Rose said...

i would love to do huge mural size coloured pencil drawings, but they take so long i would be ancient before i finished lol

looking really good :D

Jeanette said...

Margaret, I purpose bought some larger canvases to help myself go bigger. Its a new set of painting challenges at a larger scale.

Blade, that's a good size. Its manageable in terms of painting and saleable too as people have enough wall space to hang it.

As for filming the creation of a piece, I guess I never consider it or consider it when its 3/4 done. :)

Jennifer, cp is time consuming but lovely. You could go larger depending on how much background and what subject matter you're using. You could also use watercolour or pastel to speed up the process.

Julie Broom said...

Looking great, Jeanette. When I'm using paint I naturally work around 24 x 30" or larger. Any smaller than this makes me feel restricted and squeezed when I work. I have a photograph of an amazing graphite drawing I saw recently at a gallery that is enormous, looks to me like a decades work has gone into it, I'll send you on a copy :-)

RHCarpenter said...

This is wonderful! I love the abstracted look of it in closeup and I will keep in mind about standing back and looking at a larger painting. Yes, I want to go larger - not just to go larger but I want a painting to make more of an impact than a small 1/2 sheet or 1/4 sheet watercolor. Thanks for this - lots of good ideas when going larger on how to manage the size and shapes without getting lost. I imagine a really large painting would make you feel like you were part of the painting while painting it?

Olivia said...

Fish again fish again !!! I want more fishes !!! King size fish . Why not?
It looks like beautiful. I hope to see it finished.

Stan Hughes said...

I like your fish. When you get ready for change it will come. Nice use of color and form.