Painting Small Works of Art or no more excuses art!

Does this sound like you?

Straw Basket Flowers small painting.
Straw Basket Flowers, 3 x 5 " acrylics, marker, collage on watercolour paper.

I would love to create BUT…

I don’t have time to paint.

I don’t have space for painting.

Creativity? I have none!

Talent? Nope…I am not an artist.

What if you had a little stash of square cardboard pieces ready and waiting in a shoebox?  Almost everyone has cardboard lying around. Yes, you can paint on cardboard. I have just eliminated another excuse:  I don’t have any money to spend on art supplies.

And what if I said you could cut up pages of discarded library books, maps, magazines, tissue paper…and use that as collage for art?  have I eliminated another favourite excuse? …I don’t want to invest in paint. All you need is a bit a glue, a pen, or some markers and you can easily get started.

For these little florals, you don't even need to use the best paint! Why not raid the leftover paint cans in the basement? You can use that same paint from your walls for your art. See Christy Kinard's florals in which she often incorporates house paint.

Small works of art are versatile.

Painting small is not a new idea. I bought Carole Marine’s book in 2014, Daily Painting – Paint Small and Often to Become a More Creative, Productive, and Successful Artist. If you are at a loss for ideas, this book is chock-full of inspiration.

Marine discovered the daily painting movement in 2006. In the first few chapters, she describes her own creative journey and that of other artists who paint daily. She includes a wealth of information to "bring the joy back into your art". (back cover).

How small is small?
Small paintings Love You Buckets.
Love You Buckets, 3 x 5 " watercolour paper with acrylics, collage, gelli printed paper (vases).

It really depends on the artist; however, in examining the many paintings included in Carole Marine’s book, small is most often 6” x 6” or 6 x 8. These are usually paintings that can be completed within a set time such as 1-3 hours.

The point is to complete a painting each day by painting small.

The Inchie Challenge.

Want to paint even smaller? Join the “Inchie Challenge” at the Mindful Art Studio in September.

Although I have never joined this challenge, I do paint small in between the other larger pieces or commission work.  Even painting in a sketchbook is painting small if you think about the size of smaller books (3 x 5 pocket Moleskine as an example, or 4.5 x 7”) that some artists use. Any time is a good time to paint small and there is no need to wait for any kind of a challenge.

I come full circle: Why paint small works of art?

  • First and foremost, it is the satisfaction of the process. Painting small is less intimidating and committing to a small “sample” is enjoyable. You worry less about the outcome and have fun with art.
  • Painting small means that in no time, you have a collection of similar types of art work. For instance, you might like to try abstract shapes and begin a whole series of abstract shapes and experiment with different palettes. Maybe you will find the palette that will become your signature style.
  • As you paint small, you are more at ease and self-assured. Perhaps some of the small works of art will serve as inspiration for larger paintings.
  • Multi-tasking or streamlining art makes decisions easier. What I mean is that if, like me, you always have small pieces of gessoed watercolour paper at hand, then it is easy to take the leftover paint on your palette and dab it onto paper. Before you know it, you have the underpinnings of new art work. You might discover your next subject through the smears of paint (intuitive painting)…does it look like a bird? A field of flowers?
Small paintings, Chimères Roses.
Chimères Roses, 3" x 5" paintings with gelli printed paper, rub on print (vase on right - an accident!), acrylics, on watercolour paper.

Where you take your small works of art is up to you.

Small painting using two stamps for vase.
Signed, Sealed, Delivered. Vase is two stamps saved from a Christmas card sent from Germany.

Ultimately, you set the parameters for this type of art.

Do you want to work exclusively with collage? Do you want to use a very limited palette and mix your own colours?

These are more decisions that streamline your art and make it so much easier to commit to painting each day. When these decisions are all made ahead of the painting process itself, you remove all the excuses you might find for not spending time creating.

Of course, anything that can get you painting on a regular basis is going to help you on your creative journey.

Some of my pet portraits have been painted on small canvases or wood slices. Roxy (5 x 5), Louie (5 x 7), Doobie (5 x 5) are all painted on smaller canvases.

Want to share your tips for painting more regularly?

Do you know of other challenges that will inspire more creativity more often?

I would love to hear from you! (all comments are screened before they are published). Or contact me here.

Use what talent you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those who sang best. - Henry van Dyke.

Thanks for reading to the end. Have a great week!


6 Responses

    • Thanks Vivienne. I do hope to encourage people to return to art. My hope is that they learn to enjoy the process after they get through the first set of hurdles which are all the excuses they think of not to even start. Cheers from across the pond!

  • Hi Louise, a great post with great ideas and inspiration. The comment about using a limited palette reminds me a girl I follow who lives nearby to us, her name is Lauren Guymer, check her out on IG. Thanks for sharing your artistic talents with us all. ????

    • Sally, I wish I would have learned this method several years ago…I might have saved myself a lot of money. I am having fun guessing what colours will emerge from the mixes I make particularly with my pet portraits.I will check Lauren out. Thanks for leaving a comment.

  • Hi dear Louise, I like everyone of your bouquets. You captured them in a wonderful kind and the colors are bright too. I like also to paint small pictures because you get a result after short time. Thanks for sharing dear friend!

    • Hi Birgit! Thank you for stopping by! Painting small is very rewarding because as you say, results are quick to achieve. I am using small painting to experiment and to loosen up. Your paintings are always a delight. I love all the variety I have seen lately in your art. Have a great week with much inspiration!

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