Saturday, June 21, 2014

Why Paint Small?

Recently I had an inquiry from a blog follower about my work. "Wow beautiful work Rita! I've been following you for quite a while now. Just curious, why do you work on such a small scale?"

I replied:

Hi friend,

My goodness! You asked the best question! I put this off for a day to think of how best to answer it, and also because this is an excellent blog topic for my Art Journal so if I answer it well I can turn it into a post. (multitasking - yea!)

First I'd like to recommend some light reading of 2 of my older posts:

These talk a bit about painting frequently, how I started doing cows and painting small. But to specifically answer your question the best way is to make a list. There are so many excellent reasons for painting small that even the list has lists. The reasons spawn more reasons...
  1. Small is cheap.
  2. Small is fast.
  3. Small is small.
  4. Small uses less materials so is more economical ("cheap" #1).
  5. Because it's more economical you can charge less ("cheap" #2).
  6. The low prices attract more buyers.
  7. Acquiring more buyers grows your client base, and your email list.
  8. You can connect with your new clients on FB and potentially attract all of their friends.
  9. Because small paintings cost less, some clients buy several at a time.
  10. Some of the small-buying clients will also like to buy your large work.
  11. Because small is fast, they take less of your valuable time, so are more economical ("cheap #1). Etc, etc.
  12. Because small is small, mistakes are less stressful.
  13. Because small is fast, mistakes are quicker to fix.
  14. Because small is fast, failed paintings are easier to shrug off, and quicker to learn from.
  15. Because small is fast, you can paint more of them.
  16. The more you paint, the better you get!! (This should be Number ONE!!)
  17. As your work improves, more people like it and want to buy it.
  18. (And because the small ones are cheap, they can!)
  19. As your work improves, failed paintings are less frequent.
  20. Many art-buyers have no room on their walls for large work.
  21. Many buyers (at fairs and galleries) are traveling and want something they can carry.
  22. The more you paint, the more paintings you have.
  23. The more paintings you have, the more frequently you can post on social media.
  24. The more paintings you have, the more paintings you can sell.
  25. Painting small makes it easier to paint every day.
  26. Painting small is addictive.

All of the items on this list are true and from my own experience. None are made up or borrowed from anyone else, but you might hear other artists have the same advice because they've learned it too!

I could keep adding on to some of these - especially about the social media! But that one might need it's own post...

Let me know if this is helpful! ;)



  1. I paint small, mostly for the economical factor, #1. But also because I just do not have room to go big. Sometimes I feel like I am not challenging myself, or, you real artists paint big. This post made me smile, and consider some things I had not thought of before. Thanks Rita! Checking out your two post links....

    1. Thanks Sheila! I love to hear other artists' reasons for painting however they paint!

  2. Hi Rita! This is a great post :)Thank you for sharing. I'm glad I happen to find your blog, I saw your work on Daily Paintworks. I'm not 100% sure but I think we took Carol Marine's workshop together in San Antonio a few years ago. Your work is great! Take care & I hope you're having a great weekend :)

    1. Thanks Angela! You're probably right about the CM workshop. Although my memory is the worst, it was in January 2011 (I had to look that up, lol) so if that's when you took her's, we were both there! What a great workshop that was! I learned so much; my career really took off after that.

    2. Yes, that's when I was there. It was an awesome workshop. I'm glad you are doing so well :) I think I'm ready to start now. haha, maybe. Well good to see you again, so to speak :)

  3. Love this post Rita! And I agree about small. I've done the Leslie Saeta 30/30 challenge three times and I certainly wouldn't have been able to to finish anything or have a life if they were any bigger than 6x6.
    Small is great for being unobtrusive, (almost) instant satisfaction. I need to bookmark/save/ share this post so I can refer back to it!

    1. Thanks Susan! Please share! And thank you for the mention of Leslie Saeta, I'd never heard of her since I tend to live in my own little bubble, but have just spent 30 minutes browsing her sites and now have signed up for her emails!

    2. That's so cool Rita! She seems like a lot of fun and very practical. I love to spread the gospel of the 30/30!
      As for your list I need to print it out and frame it!

  4. Great list. And really nice work!

  5. I especially like #12... painting large is stressful.
    Good post!

    1. Thanks Judith! Lol, I can see how that would be for you, your paintings are so incredibly detailed and meticulously perfect! ;)

  6. Every artist wishing to improve their skills and add clients should post this list in their painting area. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts!

    1. Thanks Susan, glad to be helpful! (I personally have a list called 10 Steps to Becoming a Better Painter [by Clint Watson of FASO] up on my desk ... it sometimes works for me - lol!)

  7. Good evening! I've realized too late that the adage, "'tis better to ask forgiveness than permission," might apply to me in the case of this blog entry of yours. I so enjoyed your post on "painting small" that I posted a link to it on my own blog. I've admired your work for years now, and seeing your comments on a subject that is so dear to my own heart and work, really caught my interest. Please forgive me, and please accept my gratitude for a terrific post. Here is where I posted the link to your blog post:
    Thank you for sharing some really on-point thoughts that I will take to heart.

    1. No prob Brie!! I love my posts being shared! Btw, I love your reason for painting small, makes me wish I had thought of it! :)

  8. Thank you for sharing. This article is very helpful and informative. We need more article like this. Cheers!

    Airless Spray

    1. Thank you Seravina, I appreciate your comment!


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