Proper scale

Scale plays a big part in how I handle a painting. By scale I mean the size of the canvas. A single figure on a 6-foot canvas requires a different treatment than the same figure would on a 6-inch canvas.

I didn’t understand that early in my career, but as I worked on paintings up and down the size scale, I came to appreciate the significant part this plays.

A lot of artists fail to take scale into consideration. This is especially true for those who believe that real artists only use big bristle brushes, and who are surprised when they make a muddle of small-format paintings.

Artists, like writers, can get into ruts. Changing scale is one way to get out of a rut.

Agamemnon and Orestes is on the large-size end of my recent work (44″ x 60″). Most of my similarly-sized work contains many figures in an assortment of scales, although smaller than lifesize.

Unfinished ‘Agamemnon and Orestes’ on the easel

The painting in the background, Troopers, is smaller than Agamemnon and Orestes but several of its figures are near-lifesize. I think I’ll go in that direction.

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