What’s Harder: A Miniature Or A Larger Painting?

Is It Easier To Paint Big Or Small?

By Rachelle and Wes Siegrist

Siegrist watercolor commission 1995One of our large-format commission paintings

We’re often asked at art shows “Is it easier to paint big or small?” Even though we’ve done both over 30 years for Wes now (and a few less years for Rachelle), it’s not an easy answer. Some things are easier . . . some are harder. Physically, it’s almost always more challenging to paint a miniature. And now that we’re getting older, to even see where to paint has become quite difficult at times. We would dare say one of the most difficult things to do is to paint the eye and eyelashes in a human portrait, and sometimes pet portraits. Many times we have to look from the side to make sure the brush is hopefully hitting the correct spot! (Even the tiny brushes are bigger than the area we’re painting) On the other hand, trying to paint the same level of detail in a larger painting  as in a miniature would take inconceivable amounts of time!

Wes Siegrist loading paintings in 1993It was a lot harder loading and unloading vehicles with conventional-sized paintings,

especially in bad weather!

Rachelle Siegrist with her paintings in Lake Placid, FL 1999Here are two photos from the 1990s of us displaying both large and miniature paintings

Wes and Rachelle Siegrist exhibiting in 2005 at Silver Springs, FL

A Few Advantages and Disadvantages of Being a Miniature Painter

There are obviously both advantages and disadvantages to specializing in painting miniatures. It’s certainly a lot easier and more convenient to travel with a couple of large totes filled with miniature paintings, than it is to lug around a dozen large paintings, and certainly easier to carry into our art shows.  Everyone assumes the set up is easier, but in reality, it’s much harder.  Since we normally have about forty to fifty paintings at a in-person show, it takes quite a while to carefully space, figure out the placing and hang that many paintings in an orderly manner.  Of course, filling out paperwork for that many paintings is also a pain!  We do have the advantage of having more “retail space” so we can display a greater variety of subject matter.  Surely one of the toughest things is when we have to choose what to bring to a show … something always has to be left behind which in our case is typically 10-20 lovely paintings.  We’ve found we can’t hang miniatures too high, or too low.  They have to be at an easily viewable level.  Probably the toughest thing we deal with is the notion that smaller is both faster and cheaper.  Miniatures take 8-10 times as long per square inch to do with all that effort rarely being rewarded with higher value.  Larger paintings can be appreciated and even purchased from across a room but with minis, well, the viewer’s nose just inches from the painting is prerequisite to adding it to their collection.

Wes Siegrist with his watercolors in Sebring, FL 1990Wes by some of his boat paintings c. 1990.  Trying to paint all that rigging and water ripples in miniature is far harder!

What do you think about this topic?

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