Art: Large or Small- Pros and Cons

"Spring Bunny" 2009, 3.5" x 2.5" India Ink, Colored Pencil, and White Acrylic

For the last six years I've been painting in a very small size format (2.5" x 3.5") known as ACEO. However, I haven't always painted in miniature! When my studio was larger and my children were smaller, I created paintings of a substantial size, usually several square feet. I believe that both small and large works of art have their advantages and disadvantages. In this post I'll describe some of the pros and cons of a painting's dimension.

"Sherwood Courthouse" 22"x30" Watercolor 1991 (above)

The Pros and Cons Of Painting Large:

Large usually gains more respect.
I've found that people (and galleries) tend to see bigger as better in art. For the most part, buyers have an easier time justifying a sizable investment in a work of art, if the work of art is large.

Large usually sells for a higher price.
(See above)

Large is more conducive to a loose style of painting.
Many artists enjoy painting with big- loose brushstrokes and a spontaneous style. This is quite difficult on a canvas that is only inches square!

Shipping large art is challenging.
Sending a large canvas across the country or over seas is expensive and complicated. Sometimes an artist will not sell outside of the US or ship out of the country because of the cost and hassle of packing a big painting.

"Tufted Titmouse" 2009, 5x5" Watercolor (above)

The Pros and Cons Of Painting Small:

Small is quicker.
The tiny dimensions of an ACEO lend themselves to a quick turnaround for a painting. Even with the tremendous detail that I love in my work, I can usually finish a miniature piece in a few days.

Small (sometimes) has less emotional investment.
When I've completed a tiny work of art, its not always up to my satisfaction. However, if the painting is a tiny ACEO that I've invested just a few days in, I can let it go even if when I'm unhappy it. On the other hand, when a very large painting (that I have spent many months on) fails to meet my standards, its a huge disappointment.

Small art requires little work space.
In a house filled with energetic teenagers and located in a beautiful (though expensive) part of the country, there is little room for a large studio space. I've been able to carve out a VERY small corner of our home to use as my current studio. My entire workspace can be quickly dismantled and packed into a basket if necessary. Painting in miniature lends itself beautifully to a diminutive work space.

Small art is more affordable:
ACEO are most famous for being affordable to the general public. That is a real advantage, especially in a tight economy. Anyone can afford original art when its just a few inches square!

Small art is easier to ship:
I love that my miniature art can be shipped anywhere in the world for just a few dollars! They are so small that I ship my ACEOs in a regular invitation size envelope.

Finally, I have a more satisfying relationship with my small art. I love that I can "pour myself into" a small painting and finish it before I become uninspired or lose momentum. Perhaps someday when my children have gone out into the world, and our need for this big house is gone...I'll have an expansive, quiet studio which holds large colorful paintings as well as tiny works of art.

"Monhegan Island Inn" 22" x 30" Watercolor 2002 (above)



DEB said...

Hmmm...The miniature fine art pieces I do take me longer than the wall art I paint, because I'm working under magnifiers and adding so much more detail. Therefore, I guess I'm just the opposite - my mini's command a higher price than my small format wall art. Another pro for miniature art - I'm finding that they are juried into regular art show venues that have to turn away larger pieces because they don't have the space, and galleries like them for the same reason. People like to pick them up and become more intimate with them than they do the larger art. In my opinion, the wall art and aceos or miniature art are just completely different experiences. And it's not often that I find collectors who jump around and buy both. Most people seem to have a preference.

Melody Lea Lamb said...

Thanks for your comment Deb! It really does depend on the artist, gallery, and buyer doesn't it? Love the point you made in regards to gallery space, very true indeed!

Todd Weiss CFA said...

Melody, man you have a gift. These pieces rock. Thanks for sharing. :)

Richard Bejah said...

Gotta just love that Titmouse it was so cute! I have a houseful of girls all into art.. I am going to show them your site they will love it! RICH :0)

Claudia Olivos and Sergio OlivosM said...

Melody- I love your tiny mouse!

I have also been painting minis (canvases) this last year. The trouble I have run into is that when people see them they think: "what am I going to do with that tiny thing?"
Art is not utilitarian- but it does afford many with an object for decor. However, with a mini, even that is taken away as one can at best, set it on a living room table-but where it will mostly disappear next to most things.
But I do love working on these, especially in the winter when it is too labour intensive to get our studio warm via woodstove, so I can paint inside..sometimes even in bed! :)

Claudia Olivos

Melody Lea Lamb said...

Thank you Todd and Richard!
Claudia, I agree about getting cozy for the winter with a small canvas rather than braving the big chilly studio for a larger canvas. I also wanted to mention that when these tiny works of art are matted well and framed, the command a rather nice presence on the wall! Here is an example of an ACEO framed:
Thanks again!

Follow My Heart Studio said...

Most of my customers by ACEOs to display in binders. You can purchase protective binder inserts that have 9 pockets to a page. The cards slip right in.

This way they can collect hundreds of paintings but have them as one "coffee table" book.

Others will have the ACEO matted to an 8" x 10" frame or have multiple ACEOs in one frame.

The possibilities are endless it is just a matter of showing the customer other options.

The gallery that represents me has created a webpage specifically to show different options:

Fay Akers said...

Your ACEO is wonderful. I recently started doing ACEO too. I also understand the problem with having to carve out a small space for ones art. I've tried eBay so far, but not doing well. What do you recommend to sell them?

Thanks and look forward to seeing more of your work.

June Stoyer said...

I love your miniature art because it is almost like a small dose of happiness that you can look at to brighten your day when the weather outside is gloomy. I prefer to think of them as mini-inspirations!

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