When you make a mediocre painting bigger it just gets more mediocre. I sure know this feeling and I don’t like it. However when you make something powerful AND it happens to be bigger then it can become breathtaking. Making art bigger than ourselves can be challenging. But it doesn’t have to be.
Here are three easy ways to make your Art bigger and better.
#1 MAKE THE CLOSE UP VIEW AS STRONG AS THE DISTANT VIEW
When art that is bigger than yourself, it is important that the art looks exciting, not just from close up, but also from across the room. Sometimes when our Art is large, we stand right up close and get lost in all its detail. However, from a distance the viewer can’t see these subtleties. If it doesn’t look interesting from a distance then no one will spend the time walking across the room to look at it. A strong work of art needs amazing detail, subtlety (close up view) juxtaposed with bold, loud composition or interest that can be seen from far away (Distant view.) Both aspects need to be equally strong.
This idea can be easily seen in Georgia O Keefe’s painting “Horses Skull with Rose”
I like to think of how my art would look to someone driving by a gallery in a car traveling at 25 mph. If, that one second, distant view is compelling, then and only then will the driver pull over and come into the gallery to have a look at my work.
#2 SCALE UP YOUR TOOLS AND MARKS
When the work gets bigger, then so should the tools used to make that work. Imagine a 1” brush being used on a 12” square painting. The brush relative to the size of the art is quite large. Now if you make that 12” square painting 72” x 72” square, it has grown in scale 36 times! Taking a brush only slightly bigger, say 2” will in no way be enough to generate a similar powerful brushy feeling of the 12” painting. Basically, going larger with your tools will help you scale up the feeling you achieved in the smaller work. I was amazed at the scale of tools Gerhard Richter used to produce his amazing “Cage Paintings”
Also, what might be a bold gesture, done with a twist of the wrist on a smaller work might not be enough once the work becomes larger. Your emotion and the physical movement of mark making have to also grow in scale to pull off larger work. Larger tools will help you achieve larger work.
#3 MAKE YOUR THINKING BIGGER
When working on your Art, especially something at scale, it is important that you push yourself to think beyond the confines of the edges of your actual Art. Imagine that your art is merely a window into something bigger. Imagine you are creating a cropping of something that is bigger as you work. A shape that is made while worrying about the actual boundary of the art will feel small and self-conscious compared to one that ignores or is not aware of the physical edges of the Art.
Sometimes I like to start my painting outside the panel I am working on. It invariably makes a more powerful statement. Large work doesn’t work if your thinking remains the same as when you were working on something small.
Be expansive in all ways so that your art will not just look large but will feel large as well. It needs to be both.
These are some of the ways that have helped me work larger. What ways or thoughts do you use to make your Art bigger? Please comment below.
the founder of Art2Life.
With over 20 years experience as a working artist and educator, I’ve developed a systematic approach that brings authenticity, spontaneity and joy back into the creative process.