Painting small – New Journey, Strange Land
I’m enjoying the practice of small paintings. While undertaking my MA in Process Work (also known as process oriented psychology) I began painting very small. I had to pack up my studio and leave my house to be able to afford my studies in Portland, Oregon. I continued to live in Australia and fly back and forth for the required residencies within the program. It was a very big undertaking and I had to work out for myself how to continue my regular painting practice.
I switched from doing large scale mixed media drawings that took a few weeks to complete, to small watercolours. The change in my practice was really exciting because it was a change in scale from big to tiny. It was a change in time frame from weeks to a day. It was also a change in medium from hard materials that were more controllable like pastels and acrylic paint to the fluidity and transparency of watercolour. Working small has also fostered a more intimate relationship with myself and the viewer.
I can’t say that less effort goes into a small painting. Rather, I think it has opened up the possibility for me to hang onto the coat tail of imagination and go for a ride by working quickly. Working large slows things down as it takes longer to perform say, 3 actions. I have to then step back a long way and consider the next move. Where as in working small I perform 3 actions and I have an overview with one step back. Then I can jump back in again and continue. The shift from inside to outside and back again is immediate. A lot happens quickly in a little painting and I can be with my feelings and memories intensely. I’m excited by painting small and having a few paintings on the go at the same time. Each painting is a view into myself that I step into and feel. Details in a small painting may not be as realised as when working larger, but I’m interested in the practice of observing, then entering my memories and feelings and working from there. It takes all my courage and trust to let go, feel and follow.