By Shanan Campbell Wells
Art in small size does not mean small impact. A small work of art placed in the perfect location enhances high-traffic areas, such as the living, dining, or bedrooms, as well as less obvious places – a closet, the bathroom or a kitchen corner nook. In the world of fine art, there is a distinction made between “small art” and “miniatures”. Small works of art can be little surprises that awaken our interest and create impact in new and different locations.
There are many reasons for collecting artwork in small sizes. It takes up less space, represents personal stories of sentimental value, provides the perfect solution as a gift and expresses a uniqueness that can’t be duplicated. Small works retain the same high degree of creativity and craftsmanship as artwork in bigger dimensions. Although we may think that we have no more room for art, the opportunity to portray personal stories or favorite styles using small art enriches our lives and economizes our space. There are many reasons to give art as a gift for a celebratory event, such as anniversaries, birthdays, or to simply say, “thank you”, but equally as important, in times of stress or bereavement, art can say, “I care”.
Art can be the perfect gift for someone who seems to have it all. A small piece of pottery or sculpture helps us focus on elements in simpler compositions and provides a meditative-like experience just for its simplicity. Grouping a series of otherwise unrelated artwork together, whether on a wall or a table, creates an interrelationship, called “varyism”. In a sense, this concept is like grouping two or more elements together and ending up with “more than the sum of their parts”. Displaying art together creates energizing relationships.
Glen Crandall is a master craftsman with his own unique style. Glen’s creations are non-traditional, using segmented wood turning to create his fine bowls, many of which are less than 6” tall. Working from detailed drawings, he uses woods that are either domestic or imported exotic hardwoods. Using no paints or stains, the various colors are the actual color of the woods. The finish is a clear varnish followed by a hard wax. Glen’s designs honor the historic and pre-historic Puebloan artists who made fascinating designs found on Native American pottery in the Southwest.
Many artists at Sorrel Sky create smaller works in addition to large compositions. Edward Aldrich has a number of paintings that are less than fourteen inches at the longest dimension. “Stellar Jay” is an excellent example of how Edward suggests the greater expanse of a natural scene in a small painting. His style breathes life into his subject and elicits a feeling that we are actually a part of the scene. Smaller paintings and sculptures help us focus on simpler elements, creating a sense of space and calm.
Sculptor Michael Naranjo has gained notoriety for large sculptures, yet some of his finest work is small. “Fountain of Youth” is only 9” tall. The figure draws us in, to reflect on our own youth, beyond cultures or chronology. “All of my pieces are totally accessible and hands-on. That is the way I like them experienced.”
Gerald Balciar is noted for his readily identifiable artistic style, which is grounded with his in-depth knowledge of animals. For reference, he works from his extensive library of wildlife material, which includes photos, magazine clippings and books. Balciar also uses live models as an invaluable aid in his sculptures and develops solid relationships with zoologists and wildlife organizations.
New York-born fine artist Chuck Sabatino’s canvases depict interesting subjects with light and shadow dancing among three or four clay pots or flower arrangements. He also creates paintings featuring a single pot, in a manner allowing us to focus directly and for a longer period of time.
Artists with a wide collector base famous for larger artwork often create affordable small art of equal skill and craftsmanship. We can own works of art created by our favorite artist by thinking small. The value of the creation lies in the eye of the beholder, regardless of the size. Small works of art focus our eyes, can be mixed together or placed apart, and are often more affordable, inducing a legacy of wonderful memories for family and friends. We sometimes overlook a small flower nestled amongst the larger rocks and shrubs, and miss possibly the prettiest example of beauty in the entire garden.