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Small Canvas vs Large Canvas

Does size matter? I have been creating prolifically during lockdown and have been working on both small and large paintings and it’s got me thinking. How does the size of the canvas affect a paintings overall outcome? Do my larger paintings have more impact than the smaller ones? Do I find the small paintings constraining? All questions I am going to try and attack in this blog post. So here we go.

In the past, my work has mostly been large scale with the intent to make the biggest statement. My work back then focussed on the male gaze and the gender imbalance within society and the art world, so large works did lend themselves quite nicely. A statement, overpowering and not allowing myself to disappear into the crowd. Not overshadowed. And I think it is this mentality that has always put me off working small. Having said this, I have recently discovered the joys of working small and am eager to develop this further.

At the moment my process begins with small studies in ink or acrylic that I then develop into paintings. But I have found that the smaller ‘studies’ are just as much a painting as the larger ‘final’ outcomes. Most times, I prefer the ‘studies’ and am starting to view them as paintings. Working with such little space makes me think more about what marks I’m placing down. How can I use the space to its fullest? Whereas when I am working on a large canvas it is a completely different experience, with so much space to work with I can often feel overwhelmed and begin piling mark upon mark. Which can often create some fantastic things but the overall composition doesn’t work. Maybe I need to apply the same thought process I have with small canvases to the larger ones?

I think I do find the small canvases constraining but I don’t think it’s a bad thing. It’s teaching me to be more disciplined and maybe slow down a bit more whilst painting. Be more reflective.

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