Small Paintings Can Make a Big Impact

By Claire Larrabee

When thinking about buying artwork, it’s easy to overlook small paintings that may be tucked in the corner of an artist’s studio, art fair booth, or gallery. Small paintings can help you create an inviting, beautiful, and balanced environment in your home, so they are worth seeking out.

My husband and I have bought lots of small artwork for no other reason than we absolutely loved the piece and wanted to live with it. This is the real reason to buy any small art piece – simply because you love it. But there are many other good reasons to consider the small painting.

Small Paintings Can Address “Problem” Areas

Every home has them – those awkward corners, narrow hallways and blank walls sandwiched between doors. These are places that cry out for something to liven them up, but which would be overwhelmed by a large painting. Small paintings, especially in multiples, can be the perfect solution. I love this pair of mixed media paintings made of cut-up colored pencils by David Poppie. They turn a boring space between a hall door and closet into an intriguing stopping point.

Mixed Media – David Poppie

Small Paintings Don’t Have to Take Up Wall Space

If you suffer like we do from “art lust,” wall space is at a premium. Accommodating another large painting just isn’t in the cards. Small art work is great because it doesn’t have to take up wall space at all. Using easels or leaning artwork on tables or mantels frees up walls while nicely complementing the surroundings.

In the picture below, the use of a small painting provides a focal point that draws the eye without taking away from the drama of the handmade mantel and marble surround – or requiring any holes to be drilled into that beautiful stone!

Figurative Painting – Linda Post; Carved Wooden Mantel – Scott Deming

Small Paintings are a Great Way to Remember Your Travels

When we travel, we like to bring back one or two mementos to help us remember the trip. Small art is a great way to keep memories alive. A small painting in our hallway helps us remember warm, sunny days on the Caribbean island of Anguilla. We’ve paired it with other memory pieces – an old alabaster bowl picked up in Egypt and a small porcelain bowl reminding us of a fun weekend in Vermont. (And, hey, a twofer here with the painting on an easel!)

Small art is a terrific way to remember your trips.

Small Paintings are More Affordable

Price may not be your primary reason for buying small paintings, but let’s face it, we don’t always want to be spending thousands and thousands on art work. A small painting or photograph can pack a big punch in your home without blowing a big hole in your wallet.

Just about every artist is producing smaller sized pieces in every medium possible – oils, watercolors, woodcuts, photography, mixed media collage – the list is endless. I love this small photograph by Scott Matyjaszek not just because it didn’t cost an arm and a leg, but because it provides a witty counterpoint to the nearby doors. It brightens the space by echoing the wood of the doors.

Three-Dimensional Photograph – Scott Matyjaszek

Where to Buy Small Paintings

Maybe this blog has you looking around your house and noticing those blank corners that could use some attention. A great place to find small artwork is at Paradise City Arts Festivals. David Poppie will exhibit at the Northampton show in May as will Scott Matyjaszek. Scott Deming’s carved shelves to hold artwork can also be found in Northampton in May. Jeffrey Hayes and Greg Stones (shown below), are at the March festival, along with lots of other talented folks creating small and large artwork.

“Small art” painters Jeffrey Hayes and Greg Stones will be at Paradise City Marlborough in March
(Left to Right: Still Life Oil by Jeffrey Hayes, Watercolor by Greg Stones)

Paradise City’s next festival is March 23-25 at the Royal Plaza Trade Center, Marlborough, MA. There will be many skilled artists working in all sorts of media who bring fresh perspectives on small art to the show. Click here for more information on the show, including hours, location, admission, and exhibitors. Or, buy tickets here. And the next time you are out looking at art and wonder where you’ll find the wall space, think small!