You can do great wonders and increase your proficiency by painting small paintings as well as the larger ones. Now, we might take note that some artists are only comfortable with painting on the larger sizes of canvases, and some are only comfortable with the smaller sizes. Some people may look down on a small painting however, these do have their own merit. I recommend that to be a little more flexible, you try painting on all the many different sizes of canvases and panels.
The smaller size canvas or panel lends itself quite well for painting outdoors. I find that with the smaller painting, I am able to cover the panel or canvas with a spontaneity that I general do not get with the larger painting. And of course, I will be doing the painting in most often one sitting. Also painting outdoors, with a smaller panel, I will most likely be painting direct.
The panels i use for painting small paintings are the 6×8, and the 10×8. I use these in my pochade box. I also paint on 9×12 and 12×16 canvases and panels. Of course this is only meant as a suggestion. You can pick your own sizes.
Loose and spontaneous seems to work best. Your colors should be simple and subtle. Some times a single brush stroke can depict an object, because the size of the brush may relate more closely to the size of the subjects you are painting. You might use two or three brush strokes to suggest a tree. Perhaps, a single brush stroke can suggest a house or building in the distance.
It is also, quite possible to get a substantial amount of detail in a small painting. It will depend of course, on your skill level. And it can be quite a challenge.
Quite often the small painting is done as an oil or acrylic sketch that will be used as a guide for a much larger painting don in the studio. Here you may want to show more detail.
Small Palette knife Painting
The painting “Towers” below, is an example of what can be done on a 6×8 panel using a small diamond shaped painting knife. With a painting of this nature, one is able to concentrate more on the shapes, tones and colors. Note however, it is possible to get a degree of detail into the small knife painting. I suggest that you try a knife painting
The Panel For Small Paintings
When painting small paintings, the quality of the panel is important. The reason being, that it will tend to dominate every thing that you do on it. So, do not cut corners. Get a good quality panel. Also, you might consider applying a toned ground, to eliminate the white and set the stage for the tone of your painting. Always make sure you allow plenty of time for the ground cover to dry well before painting on.