the fun that happens behind the scene

I got into the habit of painting large pictures after I discovered that I could rehearse ideas by first making large drawings. And then the prospect of painting on a large canvas began to seem much less daunting.  I knew that I could work out any problems or uncertainties using the less expensive medium.  At first I even used cheap paper to make the preliminary drawings.  Sometimes to make the sheet large enough, I taped together many smaller sheets.  I got that idea from a cartoon by Carracci that I saw at the National Gallery of Art.  It was one large image drawn on a sheet made from assembling many small sheets.

These days I use watercolor paper by the roll and artists’ crayons rather than crayolas.  But I got my start with quite humble (and very amusing) beginnings.

Illustrated above is a large koi painting measuring 40 x 60 that’s almost complete, and a preliminary drawing for it that is slightly smaller, and which has undergone still further alterations, taking on a life of its own.

As to why I wanted to paint large, I think I merely wanted to surround myself with the images that I love — to be even more inside that world.

accidental pairings

One of the ways that I get ideas for new works is from chance occurrence. While I was looking through image files, I found these two pictures side by side — rather as they appear here.  The image on the left is a notebook drawing of the koi.  The picture on the right is a scene from an old studio where a large drawing was nearly complete.

Seeing the two works together like this, the one on the left could almost seem to be the same size as the one on the right — and that gives you an idea how it would look enlarged.  Making large works is not merely about enlarging small works.  The large picture ought to seem as though it is simply “the right size” but seeing this small drawing in this context does suggest that it might look good on a much larger scale.

The process could as easily work the other way.  You could see some huge painting in a museum and realize that it offers you a subject that you could do on a smaller scale.  The key, whatever the circumstance, is to be open to new ideas.