This painting would be much easier if I was working on a larger canvas. But, working small has its advantages as well as being good training.
I spent two hours on nothing but the head for this session and I still think I may go over it again. The most difficult thing that I find with painting portraits is the small margin for error. If something is placed wrong even by the smallest amount anyone can notice that it just doesn’t look correct. To make matters works that margin of error is even smaller when working at this size. So, I tend to think before every stroke. I triangulate where each stroke should be placed by comparing it with something else directly above or below it, or directly to the right or left of it. In essence I draw a grid in my mind over the area. The process is achieved quickly especially when practiced all the time.
For me the advantages of working small out weigh working larger. First and foremost it is cheaper and easier to deal with. I remember in collage I was working on multiple paintings that were around 6 feet tall or wide. Not only did painting of this size use up a ton of paint but just moving them around was a real pain. I don’t have a big place here, and even if we did have a large home I would still work small. These paintings are all about learning, of course there is a lot to learn when doing a larger painting. But, smaller paintings take less time to get to an idea or a semblance of completion. It’s kind of like doing a bunch of thumbnail sketches or smaller paintings in preparation for large work. With these smaller paintings I can work out all kinds of ideas faster and easier. Now that I think about it, I should have done more smaller works while in college. Working small informs the larger work and is better preparation. Also, I have enough trouble trying to take usable photos of my smaller works, I can’t imagine the difficulties in taking photos with larger works.