Some of my best paintings have been under 11×14 in size. I used to paint larger works on a fairly regular basis when I had multiple galleries representing me. These days, I prefer to work small. I thought about doing a few larger works in a new series of Colorado images, but decided I preferred the small studies to the larger works.It isn’t that the large pieces were lacking in design or execution, in fact they were based directly on the small pastel studies I had done previously. However, the idea of condensing a vast amount of complex space into a small area seems to be a recurring theme for me.
For example, take the painting above, Blue Crane, which is based on some sketches I did from NYC’s Highline. All of the construction activity and expanse of the city is captured on an 11×14 canvas. The studies I did for this were even smaller, about 6×9 in. I never really considered painting it larger because I felt that condensing successfully onto a small canvas was a far greater achievement than going from big to big. This goes back to my theory of painting what draws you to your subject in the manner that you feel conveys the idea best. In this case, the idea of creating a small window with a view of a large vista interests me more than capturing the volume of the landscape through physical volume in the painting.
I’m not saying that one is better than the other, just that smaller is right size for me when depicting expansive landscapes. Think about size when considering your next painting or series of paintings. When I work in a series, which is usually the case, I try to keep the pieces all the same size. I may vary the orientation, or sometimes work in a square, but I try to keep the format the same for consistency.
These may seem like insignificant considerations, but I have found them to be extremely helpful in creating a cohesive look to my work when viewed both individually and as a whole.