Big and Small

Elfin Lakes, 30x40, acrylic painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki available in the Buckland Southerst Gallery

Elfin Lakes, 20x24, acrylic painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

The problem with paintings is that they tend to have ideas of their own. Mine are especially picky abut their size. Some are megalomaniacs. I paint a small one and it wants to be bigger. I paint a bigger one and sometimes even that isn't enough.

"I want to be really big!" it begs.

What am I to do? I can't possibly spend all my time making larger versions of my paintings. Or can I?

Now that I think of it, that's all I have been doing for the last few weeks. There is a lineup of smallish things all around the easel, and a pile of large new canvasses in the wait. And I am nowhere near its end.

Work in progress - Elfin Lakes, 30x40 version

It serves me right for losing myself in all those little sketches throughout the winter. It felt so good to churn out one after another. Well, here I am now. Too many of little darlings want to grow up. Learn from the error of my ways!

Seriously, I wish I could always predict which composition needs which size, but I can't. I do know my tendency, though; I typically go too small. I've done opposite too, but not that often.

Work in progress - enlarging an 11x14 sketch

A small comfort is that I am not alone. If you are like me, we are in a good company. There are many examples of well-known artists who repeated the same motif by varying its dimensions.

This can become an interesting exploration of the visual space, through cropping, expanding, or even skewing of the images. In fact, a whole new body of work can emerge from these experiments. Just look at these two masterpieces by Tom Thomson and how he translated his small sketches into large paintings.

The good news is that unlike with children, we can do whatever we like with our paintings. But there is a similarity too. I hope I don't spoil them with too much fussing.

Wish me luck!