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What's the BIG deal! The idea of painting smaller.

So many times i've been told, " why did you make it so big?" Most of the time i say to myself ... " that's none of your concern," but i typically give a generic answer. I am a artist who paints both large scale painting and small works, because I find that sometimes a small whisper carries just as much punch as a loud scream. My work deals with controversial issues like race and beauty so i have to be careful in my practice not to come across as angry or resentful. Large scale painting tend to me to be historic and powerful and makes us all mortal in front of them. I love that!
Last night I had the chance to meet artist Jack Whitten at a lecture here in Austin. It was amazing to here him speak on potency of doing large scale works long side smaller ones. He champion this notion that if the message was clear and succinct size didn't matter. I agree with that statement! Look, if i were paint a 2in by 2in painting of a lynching which is very disturbing but draws you in closer to view it then i have done my job as an artist. Smaller works tend to be less threatening and easier to approach.  I can spend an whole afternoon in a small Emile Bernard painting especially the ones from Pont-Aven.  Small works are valuable because they tend to house much more than other works because of their size. And a subject that most artist don't want to talk about is that smaller work sell for less and are more affordable to the general public. YIKES... did I just say that! The upside is that smaller works are easier to store and if you are in a small studio space like me, you just don't have the room for larger works. Not to mention shipping and packing smaller works versus freighting larger works across the country or world. Then there's this notion that painting bigger makes you more of a serious artist and opens your practice to more attention from gallery directors and museum folks. I don't know if thats true or not but its an interesting hypothesis.
There's so much that goes into making art, it truly is a business and some of the decisions we make effects our livelihood if not made correctly. I must confess I love the freedom of painting on a large scale, but for now the smaller the better.
Buckwheat Harvesters at Pont-Aven 1888

Jack Whitten and Kellie Jones


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