Undergrowth: mixed media on canvas, 5ft wide x 2 ft tall
Katherine Tyrrell asks an interesting question on her blog today questioning the scale in which you work and whether you work to standard sizes.
She makes some very good points - but on conclusions I differ somewhat. For me it's important to work to the size/format that suits you composition - and hang the cost! (her first option in her poll) Not because I'm wealthy - I'm quite the opposite! Just because I think it's important that every bit of your chosen area matters. I see so many good works ruined by an insistence on keeping the full size/format of the paper in order to fit existing frames :>(. It means that parts of a composition are spoilt, areas sit there not earning their keep, destroying the tension of the composition. Once students learn to crop to suit the work, and not their bargain frames, their work looks so much better :>)
You can always use that frame but have a mount/mat cut that helps it fit - allowing more space at the bottom for instance and having a wide mat. Or if you are neat, learn to cut your own. I don't do neat :>( so my framer cuts mine. Tiny works sometimes look wonderful in a large frame with a very wide mat around them. A couple of printmaker friends do this a lot and the work has so much more impact framed this way.
Also if you find a good framer, he/she will usually do a good deal for you once they know you are a repeat customer. Mine is a treasure.
Abstract based on sketches of the river Dordogne, mixed media on canvas 40 ins square (and yes it did match the sofa cushions!)
Tiny abstract based on words, slightly off square, about 5ins
These 3 pieces vary from a long thin landscape format to square to off square. Each needed to be that particular format to me.
I tend not to like the A5/A4 etc proportions and like a 2:3 ratio better when working in a rectangle. Hence the 20x30 inch canvas.
Paint big and get noticed is one option Katherine mentions - and this certainly seems to work for local open exhibitions where larger works hold their own in a crowded jumble of paintings hung floor to ceiling. They are frequently the prize winners.
Depending on just how big, they often look better on people's walls even in a small house. I like to have a large painting over my sofa - currently I have one of the Harlequin series (landscape 30 x40ins) next to a 20 x 30 ins (portrait format) seascape . My room isn't tiny but isn't huge either. Paintings this size look far better than the occasional A3 paintings I have for a change in a row of 3.
Because the larger paintings are unframed, on deep sided canvas, they are proportionally cheaper to have exhibition ready. I prefer them unframed. This cuts down on costs - remember gallery commission is on your expensive framing as well as your work,
In exhibitions it does look good to have at least some of your work the same size - but some variation looks good and gives buyers options to buy smaller and cheaper work as well as large pieces.
I have a maximum size limit these day - the size that fits comfortably in my car with the back seats down - both of these canvases would fit.
Some paintings work beautifully on a small scale, others cry out for the larger canvasses - so working to fit the subject is important. Though I love working on paper, it's a surface I enjoy, to work very large on paper costs SO much to frame that I tend to move on to canvas for very large pieces. I also like the clarity of colour, with no glass reflection. I do intend to try Sarah Wimperis' way of varnishing watercolours with a matte varnish so that they too can be framed without glass. Another friend, Nicole Caulfield does this with coloured pencil work very successfully.
How about you? stock sizes? size according to subject? how do you work?