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Bobbie Salthouse Art Blog

Not So Big Art

by bsalthouse , November 8, 2010—12:00 AM

Topics: small paintings, small works

What's happening here? In the past few years something has happened to the size of my work--it's shrinking! I suppose I could worry about this development--painting teachers always encouraged us to work large. And it's true: working large can really free you up. Added to that, when you visit galleries and museums the work is often SO big and impressive. It feels as if someone makes something big enough everyone will take notice, and, of course, they do.

But size isn't necessarily related to quality or depth of experience. People will always be impressed by a big building, wall-sized painting, room-sized sculpture or expansive view at the top of a mountain. However, small things can inspire too. Looking back through the history of art, there has always been a love of diminutive, portable, precious objects. In recent years domestic architecture has come to embrace the concept of small, well-designed spaces. When I go outside for a hike I am fascinated by the shapes and colors of mushrooms, mosses and lichens on a rock I pass on the trail. In my studio I love the freedom of working, and re-working, a small piece of canvas or wood; or creating a micro-world in 10×10 inch shadow-box.

It's really not the economy (though it sure is nice to save on paint and canvas) but these days I find I am drawn to small, intimate settings and objects. I love the aesthetic of Persian miniatures. Joseph Cornell. Richard Tuttle. Not So Big Art.




  Eleanor McIntosh ( homepage )

11/11/2010 * 16:48:08

A few years ago, I moved and my large studio became a small one. After a few months, I realized that my paintings had become smaller, too. Fortunately or unfortunately, 16 × 20 is about as large as I go anymore. Eleanor

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