Creating small art pieces is rewarding for so many reasons: you get instant gratification, it’s easy and enjoyable to work in a series, you tend not to overthink a piece, and there are tons of ways to use and display these charming artworks. I was inspired to go small after discovering Single Fare 4, a recent exhibit of thousands of tiny artworks created on New York City MetroCards (You can read about it in the November/December 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors). The featured artwork included portraits, landscapes, nature scenes, and more. I had to try this out.
I used three different substrates for my small art: expired MBTA tickets and receipts (that’s the public transportation system in the Boston area), a business card, and a magazine subscription card.
You can’t go wrong by starting with a coat of gesso, so on it went. I wanted to obscure some of what was on the cards, but not all.
For the MBTA card I copied a vintage photo, then did an image transfer using a Chartpak AD Marker colorless blender. To add a little color, I rubbed on some bright Gelatos, then adhered some book text with glue stick. I love how a hint of the text can still be seen. Small art done in no time, and no overthinking. The book text says it all!
For the business card I grabbed scraps from my paper stash and made some funky paper cuts. Those were adhered with glue stick, and I created a few shadows with a black Stabilo All pencil. Done. Overthought? Nope.
For the subscription card I covered the gesso with a layer of acrylic paint, then stenciled a design in spots with white ink.
I’ve been trying to improve my face-drawing skills, and drew a portrait with the Stabilo All pencil. I also added more Gelatos for some extra color.
Something about it looked unfinished to me. Maybe I was overthinking it, but I added a few collage elements, more paint, some writing…okay, I overthought. But sometimes you gotta take a risk, even with small art. Are you with me?
Making mixed-media small art was a refreshing change of pace after a few days of working on two-page spreads in a large art journal. I highly recommend this as a quick and satisfying way to create, and it’s also great for recycling and using up your stash.
Looking for more inspiration? Cathy Nichols shows how to create small works of art that tell a story in this blog post on how to make altered book page story cards.
If you’re thinking of going small, check out these resources designed to give you a jumpstart!