Small Art and Big Results

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.

Train tickets, business cards, and subscription cards make great substrates for small art pieces
Train tickets, business cards, and subscription cards make great substrates for small art pieces.

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.

Gesso layer over the original substrate
Gesso covered some of what was originally 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!

Limiting materials makes it easier to create small art.
Limiting your materials makes it easier to create small art.

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.

Using scraps to create small art.
The smallest scraps can be used to create small art.

For the subscription card I covered the gesso with a layer of acrylic paint, then stenciled a design in spots with white ink.

Creating a background with acrylic paint and white ink
Acrylic paint and white ink formed the background for this piece.

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.

Small art portrait
Use small art pieces to practice techniques, like drawing, collage, and painting.

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?

Collage added to a small art portrait
A few collage elements later and a little more paint, and I finished this small art portrait.

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!

November/December 2017 Cloth Paper Scissors
Get lots of ideas for making mixed-media gifts for the holidays in the November/December 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors!
Card Play video with Seth Apter
In the video Card Play with Seth Apter, learn how to take a deck of cards and turn it into a year-long art journal that incorporates collage and journaling.
Acrylic Painting Studio: Working in a Series with Staci Swider
Discover the benefits of creating multiple mixed-media artworks in the video Acrylic Painting Studio: Working in a Series with Staci Swider.
Cloth Paper Scissors Art Lesson Volume 8: Adding Books to Collages by Roxanne Evans Stout
Let Roxanne Evans Stout show you how to incorporate small handmade books to collages in the Cloth Paper Scissors Art Lesson Volume 8: Adding Books to Collages.

Categories

Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques

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