A Selection of Small Life Studies

Here is a selection of the very small (postcard size) oil studies that I have been doing over the last few weeks at Sarum Studio. All from life, I was using the time to experiment with different supports – various gessoed papers and card, various kinds of gesso – to just see what happened. None of them had universal appeal, but all had something in how they allowed the paint to flow or build up that I tried to understand and exploit.

The level of success is patchy, but it was a useful exercise. I decided to work on this small series thinking they were easier to bring to a finish in a limited time frame, while also being much more economical than larger paintings. While those two things are true, there are other challenges to working so small that became more obvious as time went on. For example, it’s difficult to look at the model and your painting together, as working so small means that you’re practically on top of your easel, so your viewpoint is compromised. Being so close can then also mean you get a little detail heavy in areas, thereby losing a simpler idea of form that is usually more powerful.

I will have a break from these for a while now, and I really do want to up the scale of my work. Whether I can break the habit of picking up a small piece of card remains to be seen however.