Friday, August 9, 2013

making art large or small

Meadow detail, acrylic on canvas, © Maud Guilfoyle

     When I was in college I took a dual major in printmaking and painting. I would go back and forth between the two departments and each group would talk about the other. The Painters would say the printmakers were obsessive compulsive and fussy about small details. The printmakers would say the painters didn't need talent or skill, and that they could just throw paint around on a big canvas and call it art. I was happily making figurative fine line etchings under 8 x 10" and then going across campus to pour brilliant colored paint on raw 6 x 6' canvas inspired by the stain paintings of Morris Louis and Helen Frankenthaler. 
     At present I find it as satisfying to work on a small watercolor as a large canvas. The viewing experience is totally different. Looking at small drawings or watercolors is a much more intimate experience than walking up to a large canvas. You can feel as though you are entering the landscape and become part of the artist's experience more than if the art is contained within a small area. The feelings evoked by seeing Monet's Waterlily panels or Picasso's Guernica would be quite different if these pieces were a fraction of the size.

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