Sunday, July 05, 2009
One of my big painting goals last year was quantity - I wanted to paint 100 paintings in 2008 to make sure I was putting in sufficient brush mileage to improve. This year I decided to go for quality, and I've been working on larger pieces and taking my time trying to get things right.
One thing I've noticed over the past few months is that I really don't like to work small. Pretty much anything smaller than 16x20" gives me fits, and paintings in the 24x30" to 30x40" range have been feeling the most comfortable for me. I think the reason is that the bigger panels allow me more room to play with brushwork and color within the main shapes of the painting. I've found myself really struggling to abbreviate things well enough in the smaller sizes.
At first I just figured I'd go with my gut and work on larger stuff. Then I found myself getting requests from galleries for smaller work, and ended up struggling through a bunch of smaller pieces anyhow, fighting the process all the way and telling myself I'd give up the small stuff when the economy improved. But this past week I realized I was giving up a bit, and decided to change my attitude.
I already limit my subject matter by painting landscapes, so why limit myself further by saying I prefer to work in a certain size range? I decided maybe I shouldn't be imposing more limitations on myself, and that maybe I should rise to the challenge and figure out what it is about working small that bugs me. I think it's a lack of control - in an 8x10" painting, each brushstroke and color has to be in the correct spot or things get sloppy, and I have a hard time controlling things well enough. Turns out my distaste for the small stuff is highlighting a big weakness.
So, I'm going to approach the small stuff with a better attitude, and see how I can improve my brush control and drawing by working on smaller studies. Hopefully I can get it right, and learn something along the way.
Do you impose limitations on your work to ultimately hide or ignore your weaknesses? I think it do it more often than I know!