Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Small Pieces

We were very broke upon arrival from my visit to Brazil in 1991. I threw myself into obtaining a teaching credential and later into graduate school. Watercolor was the only media I worked on during these years. I used the 7 x 10 blocks, or cut larger sheets to these dimensions. At times I also used 10 x 14. Because my work is usually not based on photographs, the larger formats seemed inconvenient; they took way longer to execute. I loved painting people, but it was very hard to catch them for more than a few seconds. So the small size enabled me to catch an impression.

Later on, I learned to “resolve” the issue of detail in my larger pieces. After I started working in oils again, this media helped me realize I could suggest instead of document. As a result, I started experimenting with much larger sizes, up to 22 x 30.

I also learned that watercolor society curators would not consider works under that gargantuan dimension, so I tried... and failed. In retrospect, none of those big pieces seems satisfactory to me. 22 x 30 is a studio, not plein air size. You need time and entire pans of color to make it work. You need a table. I went back to 10 x 14.
Currently, I still cut large sheets in half or quarters. 140 lb paper rarely curls anyway, so I seldom carry more than the tubes, a mixing pan, and my two brushes when I go out.

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