Painting Small Is a State of Mind
A couple of months ago I posted some outdoor watercolor painting sketches of my Finland trip in the Artist Daily Member Gallery. One of the comments I received was from Harry R. Gray, in which he wrote: “…and giving watercolor its full respect, I would refer to your work not as sketches but “paintings.” Using the word sketches often means the work is a study for something that comes next. But in fact these works do stand strong on their own so calling them paintings is not wrong in my mind.” Perhaps because I am painting small, only 4 x 6, I always thought of these as studies but I promised to discuss further so here goes.
When I drove through Turku (a city in Finland) in August this year, I made a quick watercolor sketch of the Turku Cathedral. In the photo below you can see me sitting in view of the main cathedral entrance, across the river, with my sketchbook in hand. That original watercolor sketch was 8 x 5 and because I was painting small it took about 15 minutes to create.
|Creating a watercolor painting sketch of the Turku Cathedral, which took about 15 minutes.|
Later, at home, I made several other studies from my trip sketches and photos like this one, below. The size of the study is 6 x 4, making it even smaller than the one made en plein air. It took about 15 minutes to complete as well.
|Watercolor painting study made in the studio from
my plein air studies and photographs.
I did not plan to make other more formal or finished paintings of this subject. So it was nothing like Harry calls “…something that comes next.” From that point of view, it should be considered as a “painting.” But let’s look at another of Harry’s statements: works that “…stand strong on their own.” Hmmm, I would not say so. But let’s look at this study (or painting?) in two different contexts, as a sketch in the studio and as a framed “finished” piece:
|Sure, it’s a study…||Oh, it’s definitely a painting.|
So, I know what turns a study into a painting! A frame! And putting it on a shelf between flowers. No one could call it a “study” after that. What do you think makes a study a study and a painting a painting? Are you painting small scale works that deserve status despite their size? Leave a comment and keep the discussion going!
And for more on painting small and why size really doesn’t matter, check out Think Big Paint Small by Joyce Washor–a book that is all about painting with ease and convenience because you are working with small canvas painting ideas that you can execute much quicker than when you work on a larger scale.
Enjoy this fun preview of the book!