Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Working Larger

I am having a lot of fun with these crayon pieces, and they work (for me) at this small scale, 10"x10".  I would LOVE, though, to see them really BIG:


Obviously, the crayons I'm using would not scale up like this.  So what?  Oil stick?  Paint on a brush?  I know I (and some of you perhaps) often see a piece that I'd like to do at a larger scale.  I'd like to feel myself in a different relationship, physically, to the painting.  Instead of Me the Artist at the table or standing at the wall/easel, separate from the Painting, I'd love to almost walk into the painting, feel it more like an environment, and then have to walk ten feet back to actually see it.  Two very different relationships to it in space. 

When working on small pieces, I can be the artist and the viewer at the same time, and I think those are very different roles.  As the artist, I need to be in the process, obsessed with the marks I'm making as they relate to one another and to the painting.  As a viewer, I see the final visual content, separate from process.  The piece becomes its own entity, no matter what my process or intentions. Part of the process of making art is going back and forth between these roles.  I wonder how scale would affect my ability to do so, or my perception of this back and forth dance.

29 comments:

  1. I find the larger size a more impressive piece of "ART"--I can see that in a gallery--making you $$$'s

    ReplyDelete
  2. My grandkids have jumbo crayons....crayola makes them. They also have some juicy ones, larger scale, called twistables.....so.....GO BIG!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I really empathise with your feelings about big paintings Jane. I like the feeling of getting lost in something huge, and then stepping back to look at it too...Can't do it it any more though because it takes a LOT of energy. In practical terms, I would definitely suggest oil sticks, with perhaps acrylic underpainting with really BIG brushes. I really do think the key to working big is to scale up the things you make marks with as well as the canvas. I think, go for it !!! Your work would look even more stunning big.
    When I saw Richard Diebenkorn's work in London after only seeing it in reproduction I was overwhelmed, in a good way, because of the size. They had presence. Big work can give you that.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Much of the power of the iconic abstract expressionists comes from the fact that they worked so large --say for instance, Diebenkorn, de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, Franz Kline, Rothko. I think we often forget that when viewing images of their work in books or on a computer screen. Personally, I limit myself to canvases that I can fit into the back of my car. There is also the storage question, not to mention pricing and marketing larger work. As for big works on paper, they cost a fortune to frame. Does going large perhaps involve having a much larger ego? For sure there are lots of BAD artists who paint large. It doesn’t make them any better. I think I’d rather hone my style on smaller pieces, . Also, I find oil pastels and oil stick to be horribly messy to work with. And difficult to paint over. But hey, Jane, love how that 10” x 10” might look all blown up! If you start working that large all the time, you might not have much time left over to teach—much less sleep! And you might need to find new studio space.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Jane (that image above made me laugh!)-

    Interesting Synchonicity: I just watched your 2 crayon video on YouTube last night and thought of doing EXACTLY what you are writing here.

    I saw myself using the side of pastels/graphite sticks/crayons...etc...rather than the tips, plus some BIG pointed brushwork.

    Let's do it!
    xx c

    ReplyDelete
  6. WOW! Thanks for your thoughtful comments. It's true, I love the power and presence of large pieces when I am in the same room with them (provided I like the images). But then it does take guts, or ego, or SOMETHING, to say This Idea is Important Enough to Take Up This Much Space. And then there is my attention span - the time it takes to make a small piece is quite different from that of a large piece. Am I committed enough to the idea to stick with it for the time it takes to develop?

    Don't worry, Cristy, I'm not giving up teaching anytime soon. It's way too much fun.

    Thanks for the tips on materials and tools.

    I do feel I need to do a lot more of these on the smaller scale before moving on to big canvas, but I'll definitely keep posting about this. Thanks for the ideas and encouragement.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are ready!!! I've been painting very large canvases and wall sculptures since Art School. I sort of hate to admit it - 1975. haha One of the truly fun things about large paintings is that you have so much ROOM to let the paint do its thing. I gotta say I've really been enjoying your videos so much. I've bought most of the materials you are using so I can experiment :)

      Delete
    2. I think you're ready too ! Jump in there !

      Delete
  7. i don't do large pieces, so these comments are interesting and thought provoking

    ReplyDelete
  8. All the above. Go for it. Larger tools + larger canvas doesn't take that much more time. The small works are the prep sketches. Set aside a couple of days and see what you can do. Work on a cradled canvas or board rather than on paper so there will be no framing issue afterwards. Or buy some primed canvas from Blick, cut a big chunk off the roll and tack it to a wall somewhere and go after it. You may need a stepladder for the top.
    I've worked with oil pastels and while they're great fun to use because they're so creamy they take forever and a day to dry, if ever. Big brushes and acrylic paint or house paint should work well for the way you approach the canvas/paper/board.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Do it before you have arthritis and you can't!! Just when I wanted to go bigger than 24x36, my shoulder flared up. Right, use gallery wrap canvas - no framing.

    ReplyDelete
  10. What they said. But I have to add that I love this picture. Your expression says it all. And the blown up crayon piece Absolutely would be stunning in a gallery.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Love the pix! I would echo many things that have already been shared… especially storage issues and longer periods of attention. When you work bigger, you might find your materials and tools naturally changing. Also, I enjoy working big pieces horizontally - that way, I can use squeeze bottles of paint and inks to make marks.

    Not only does the viewer have a very different experience with a large piece, but also the process for the artist is different interacting with a surface which is in proportion to her body.

    I am working this week on a 40 - 60 inch canvas in our driveway! Biggest substrate I've even worked on. I am finding it very freeing on many levels.

    I so look forward to hearing and seeing what happens next for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with a lot that's been said. Go for it Jane. I like working large because of the physicality of it. I still find that I need to step back and look at the work from a distance while making it. But how to store is another thing.

      Delete
  12. LOVE IT!! Looks like fun - so expressive. (your photoshop mash-up is excellent - like someone caught you working that black curved line!) Yes, materials and storage are issues for sure......but I'm all in - I want to try it! I have a few larger substrates (32x36 & 30x40) that I've been ignoring for years. Jane didn't you work large on paper this spring at the residency?? I'd love to see giant scribbles from you - I hear Cy Twombly's large scale work at the Tate in London is awe inspiring in person.

    ReplyDelete
  13. LOVE your thoughts about "almost walking into a painting"!! I've never attempted a substrate larger than 9" x 12" but you have all the talent, experience and "go for it" attitude to delve in and make it work brilliantly!

    ReplyDelete
  14. You owe it to yourself to paint at least one 48" x 60"

    ReplyDelete
  15. I can so relate to your comments about going big. In my own work I am held back in part by my studio. Two of my objectives are to go big and to collaborate in large scale. Not sure how to make that happen, what the theme is or when. Love your work and sensibilities. So.... go big it is inspiring.

    ReplyDelete
  16. The largest I've painted was 6X4. I would love to see my birds on large banners. Your art is so dynamic and would translate so well to large sizes!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Jane, in addition to everything already said, I have a couple of things to add. I find it much more difficult to paint 10"x10" than I do 4' x4'! Working from the shoulder gives you so much more range of expression. You do need larger tools, but that just means a trip to the hardware store to start. I find I do a lot of finger (hand) painting on large pieces, and even brushwork becomes a dance with your whole body! It's very gratifying. It also doesn't necessarily take all that much more time.
    I work on unprimed 10 lb. canvas, sealing and priming it myself after tacking it to a sheet of 4'x8' drywall leaning up against a wall, so my limit, currently, is the size of the drywall. I'll always be grateful to the buyer who liked my work but wanted it much larger. That opened the door.
    Some worry that there aren't as many buyers for bigger work. That hasn't been my experience. Those who have decided to purchase a piece of original art are prepared to pay for it. It almost seems more acceptable to them to pay $3,000 than to pay $300! Maybe it's because the $300 has to come out of the household budget whereas the 3 grand is a planned investment.
    In any case, it really is worth a try!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Yes, yes yes. Your post spoke to me directly. I almost always work small, sometimes miniature, but recently have wanted to find a way to work on a grander scale. So many challenges here - physical studio space, amounts of materials used, and also mental attitude. I'm trying, but am challenged severely. Thanks for your post.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I am late to this party! But am enjoying the thoughts and ideas expressed here. This posting is something I will read again and again. Jane, I am also interested in painting big pieces. After years of thinking about this, I finally tried painting a big sheet of paper (3.5' x 6') I decided to try this without concern about outcome, framing, new tools, etc. Just jump in. I knew I would have to start with more paint, a larger palette and bigger brushes. I used the biggest things I could find in my studio and threw in a couple of hardware store brushes from my husband's shop, including a paint roller to use instead of a brayer. I began painting flat, placing the paper on a large empty table, moving around, applying paint and marks in ways you so beautifully demonstrate on your tutorials, just working bigger. I enjoyed the process immensely. I found painting this way involved my body in a new way and thus produced new results that I liked. For example, a swoosh with my whole arm produced something different from a swoosh of my hand. I hung the paper up to have a look, added some more marks using crayons and just scribbling over and over to produce a bigger mark. I used a large graphite stick for pencil marks. One thing that painting bigger does require is space, for me a table and wall big enough to get a good look at things.

    Not sure where this will lead, but definitely enjoyed the process and want to do it again. I would encourage you to go for it!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. PERFECT process, Barb! I did that too when I fist started trying to work larger. Now I have to bump it up a notch. But maybe now is a good time to return to paper to keep practicing. I can staple it to a wall. We'll support each other, OK?

      Delete
    2. Sound great Jane. Another approach I've considered is painting large pieces of primed canvas. I love the mental freedom of paper and I think I might be able to translate that onto flat canvas, knowing I can cut it up if necessary, or have it mounted on a frame if something wonderful happens. Have you tried large flat canvas? Meanwhile, paper is ready and waiting. I used a roll of bristol paper. Plenty more of that in the studio. Look forward to encouraging one another on this :)

      Delete
  20. do you have it somewhere? I would like to see it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's photoshopped, Brian. Sorry. But I'm working on some 3'x3' canvases.

      Delete
  21. Oh sorry, please no offense. My comment was addressed to Barb. I would love to see some photos of here 3.5' x 6' paper works.

    ReplyDelete