How small is too small? Or, size does matter.

Once upon an August in 2016, I  discovered that for someone who hadn’t actually taken up painting, I was pretty flush with canvases. The only solution to this problem seemed to be to actually take up painting. So, I did.

I’m not sure I expressly stated this in my initial post, but I intend to first use up what I have on-hand before buying more materials. Aside from being less wasteful, there’s also a learning aspect to it: Part of this whole getting my art into gear experiment involves discovering what works for me and what doesn’t, and coming to grips with which materials I like to use and which materials I want to snap cleanly in half, over someone’s unsuspecting head.

The other day, I realised I’ve painted myself out of the most convenient-sized boards and canvases for the speedier kind of paintings I’ve begun to adopt in recent weeks. Aside from a couple of poor quality, rectangular boards, I’m down to either teeny-tiny or rather-large square canvases.

I wasn’t too fazed by this discovery. I love square format stuff and hey; tiny canvas, speedier painting process, right?


Turns out, teeny-tiny canvas just means the same amount of concentration and effort for a more fiddly, less relaxed-looking outcome. Especially given my propensity to over-complicate my subject matter.

In my mind, I was thinking: “Aw… teeny-tiny canvas… I’ll paint some teeny-tiny, ordinary stuff and it’ll take a teeny-tiny amount of time and we’ll all live happily and teeny-tiny-ly ever after.  Hmm… Rubber bands are pretty little and ordinary. I’ll paint a rubber band! Crumbs, I’m so confident of this being a cake-walk that I won’t stop at just one rubber band, I’ll have four! And not just the one colour either – I’m going all primary-coloured rainbow on this one. And because this is clearly going to be just a half-hour job, let’s throw in some lined paper for added effect.”

So yeah. Clear grip on reality and super time-management skills happening there.

My first dose of reality came when I went to underpaint the teeny-tiny rubber bands. Not a lot of room to get my shadows and highlights blocked in. So, I didn’t.

With a couple of colours down, things weren’t looking great, but much like haircuts, papier maché and childbirth, it’s pretty rare for anything to look remotely acceptable at the halfway point.

By now I had given up seeing this as a speedy exercise. I was trying not to be too careful, but there’s a certain smooth, uniform weight to a rubber band that I can’t be overlooked.

Here’s the result in all its teeny-tiny, 10cm squared, rubber-bandy glory:


I thought they looked a bit lonely somehow, so I added a touch of very deliberate colour to break up all that plain, neutral background – and to polarise opinion on whether or not I should have made those last four, colourful brush strokes.

(Still to be named) – 10 x 10cm oil on canvas board

Which camp do you fit into – ‘Love’ or ‘Leave’ those colours in the corner?  Let me know in the comments section below – I promise I won’t snap anything (other than a rubber band) over your head.

Wonder what I’ll fill my excess quantity of teeny-tiny canvases with?  Think you’d like to receive these posts via email?  Just hit the ‘Follow’ button in the menu on the right. — Thanks!


2 thoughts on “How small is too small? Or, size does matter.

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