The Shape Of A Painting

2014 Artwork Shape of A Painting Sketch

I’m sure that I’ve probably talked about this whole subject before, but a couple of weeks ago, I decided to make yet another change to the shape of my paintings. Whilst I used to paint rectangular A4-sized paintings, I started making square paintings that are roughly 18 x 18cm in size.

The first time I did this was for a painting called “Hall Of Gears” a couple of weeks ago. At the time, I was feeling extremely uninspired – so I thought something like “If I make a smaller painting, then there will be less to paint and I’ll actually finish a painting”. Surprisingly, the painting turned out fairly well:

"Hall Of Gears" By C. A. Brown

“Hall Of Gears” By C. A. Brown

The next time I tried to make a painting, I went back to making A4 size paintings but after I started inking my sketch for the next painting, I thought “This looks terrible!” and abandoned it.

But, since most of the page was blank and I didn’t want to waste watercolour paper, I decided to use the remaining space for another smaller painting. And, yet again, this turned out surprisingly well:

"Chainmail and Chainsaws" By C. A. Brown

“Chainmail and Chainsaws” By C. A. Brown

Suddenly, I felt creative again! Painting was interesting again! I don’t know why, but all it took was a simple change to the shape of my paintings in order to re-ignite my interest in art again.

I guess that small square paintings just felt like a more comfortable size to work in, since they were a good middle-ground between portrait and landscape. Not only that, the shape of the paintings reminds me of cover art on CDs and I can have a lot of fun imagining my paintings being used as album art by some band or another.

"EP" By C. A. Brown

“EP” By C. A. Brown

Anyway, I’m still surprised at the dramatic difference it made in my art. But, of course, this has happened before – in early 2012, I used to make small portrait drawings that were about the size of a tarot card.

Then, in summer 2012, I suddenly thought “what if I make a landscape drawing instead?” I think that I produced more art in the month or two following that decision than I have done in any other month.

So, why am I talking about this?

Well, one thing that can sometimes be neglected when you make art regularly is any thought about the shape of a painting or a drawing. If you’re making art regularly, then it can be very easy to just work out a “standard” shape or size for your art and then stick with that. And, for most of the time, this can work quite well and it can save you time as well.

But, after a while, it can get stale and boring. After a while, you start to notice the limitations of the shape and size that you’re using.

And, if using the same format for all of your paintings becomes something that you barely think about, then it can be easy to mistake these limitations and boredom for genuine uninspiration.

So, if your art is starting to bore you or you can’t work up the enthusiasm to make another painting or drawing, then why not try making some smaller art or some larger art? Why not try painting in portrait or in landscape or even possibly try making a square painting?

This seems like a small detail, but it can make a surprising difference.


Sorry for yet another short article, but I hope that it was useful 🙂

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