11 June 2011

on the subject of small artwork

I read a lot of blogs. Which means I come across a lot of different opinions about what art is and what it isn't and what it should be.

And this is all fine.

But this past week I've noticed that there were several posts that were fairly opinionated about small format artwork. In fact, a couple were pretty scathing. I really believe that everyone is entitled to your opinion but it stuck in my head for several days and I just can't seem to dislodge the idea from my head that some people think a piece of artwork can't be art if its small.

I work small. Always have. I most likely always will. While I sometimes make larger pieces, its not the general rule for me.

So according to some people in the fiber art world, that means I'm not a serious artist.

Hmmm...I must have missed the memo.

"Collage 1"
Lynn Krawczyk
12" fiber collage on canvas

If you don't like my work because you think the colors are tacky or the composition is weak or in your opinion its just plain ugly - I can live with that. But because its small? Really? That one I'd debate emphatically...

"On the Wire 2"
Lynn Krawczyk
10" art quilt on 12" canvas
available through SAQA auction

There was a time when this debate would majorly upset me. But not anymore. I've grown into my art and I'm comfortable where I am with it. The fact that I reach for a 12" canvas or an 8" canvas or constrain my compositions to smaller spaces doesn't mean I get to slack on design or colors or any other aspect of the work.

"Sunset Daydreams"
Lynn Krawczyk
6" art quilt on 8" canvas
published in Quilting Arts magazine Feb/March 2011 issue

Making art is an intensely personal experience. That means what works for you might not work for someone else. And my practices might make you want to run screaming in the other direction.

But isn't that what makes moving in the art world exciting? Why would we all want to be the same?

"Ginkgo Imprint"
Lynn Krawczyk
6" art quilt on 8" canvas

I can't say that I will always work small. I'm not even entirely sure of all the reasons why I choose it. Lack of larger spaces, lack of time...could be part of it. But I watch other artists with limited space and time make mammoth pieces so its certainly doable if you really want to work larger.

I guess that means I don't. I like a compact space, I like they hyper focus attention to detail it demands of me. Its like a strange enticing romance that I'm not willing to give up yet.

"Dream Time Graffiti 3"
Lynn Krawczyk
deconstructed screen printing fabric collage on 8" canvas

In the end, you have to do what you love. And my main purpose for this post really is to dissuade anyone from feeling like they need to alter their art making practices just because someone else has attacked them. I've seen it happens many times...a new artist reads a strong opinion from a well known artist and suddenly they think they are wrong for doing the things they way they want to.

Not so.

Make the art that pleases you. Be it small, godzilla size or anywhere in between.


bj parady said...

Have these people ever seen the Mona Lisa? Rejecting art because it's small is just plain idiotic.

Approachable Art said...

Applause, applause, applause! <3

Gerrie said...

Who are these people - poppycock, I say!!

Quiltmuse said...

For some things size DOESN'T matter! I remember being shocked st the small size of Botticelli's Venus and I enjoyed an exhibit of etchings by Rembrandt each of which was about the size of a postcard ...


Seems to me they are implying that the only 'serious' art is meant for large public spaces not for the intimacy of real peoples homes. Just more white cube elitist rubbish really.

Jay said...

I am with you girl!!! Art is art...have these people never heard the quote "art is in the eye of the beholder"??? And I haven't seen the Mona Lisa but I have seen Dali's "Persistence of Time" and it is really small...about 12" by 18" or there abouts...Love your work!!! I work small most of the time, too.

Joey's Dream Garden said...

Small is beautiful! :D
Sometimes big things are great, but to be honest I prefer small artwork, to look at and make it. Making artwork BIG just for the sake of it being big is silly. People should make artwork at the size they feel comfortable with, or because the size is an integral part of the artwork. Just to make artwork big because you're worried that otherwise it won't be taken 'seriously' is just daft!

I think we need to know what blogs these are!

Best wishes

Joey's Dream Garden said...

Oh and by the way Lynn, your artwork is great! I love how you experiment with colours and shapes and textures, the pieces you've shown here look very tactile. :-)
Best wishes

Julie Shackson said...

Beautiful work; I particularly love that XXX piece. I have no time for those who make proscriptions about whether someone else's art is valid, and one's inner space is so much more important!

lynda Howells said...

What is that saying..something about "small is beautiful". Honestly sometimes l give up with people who have such small mindsx keep creating small or large pieces of Art girl....x lynda

Deb H said...

A recent CraftCast podcast (5/24/11) where Alison interviews Bruce Baker, who is a Marketing expert for Artists says that in today's art market it is easiest to sell work that is either very large or very small and he recommends doing work small for collectors. So, whether you do art for sales or simply for art's sake, Lynn has the right of it!

Kim Hambric said...

I have not read those blogs. Thankfully.

Recently, my family went to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. Two of my favorite pieces were tiny. I found that they had no less impact than his larger paintings.

There's always somebody out there who needs to feel that they are better than others. Probably have confidence issues. Best ignored.

Beth from Maine said...

Wonder if those who think small work isn't art have ever seen the Mona Lisa.