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Debra Keirce – Why Do I Paint Miniatures?

I have had the opportunity to answer this question since the early 2000’s when I began entering miniature fine art shows. Originally, I researched groups and genres in the art world that focus on tightly rendered, highly detailed realism. I learned about photorealism, hyperrealism, fantasy art, Trompe L’Oeil art. All of these are still influences in my work today. But the miniature art world intrigued me, and it was there that I found opportunities to enter art shows and group forums, and get to know people in societies. Like everything in my art experience, it was the art that drew me in, and the people with their life stories that has kept me there.

FlotsamJetsamUFAll of the images in this blog post are original paintings by me, Deb Keirce, that fit in the palm of your hand. The objects in them are 1/6 original size or less. They are painted with very little texture, using stipple and hash style painting strokes.

Here are some reasons to consider painting or collecting at least a few pieces of art in miniature, to see if you like it:

– Miniature Fine art offers a more intimate viewing experience. Collectors are encourage to hold it in their hand, look closer through a magnifier to see the piece the way the artist saw it while painting it.

– Since miniatures are small, you can fit them into tiny places and they are perfect for people who are downsizing their possessions.

– The small size means it is easier and less expensive to store, ship, frame and hang miniatures.

– There are many different ways to display miniature paintings. You can hang them inside a larger frame, group them in mosaic fashion, display them in plate stands on tables or mantles. However they are displayed, you will want them to be at eye level because viewers will want to look closer.

– When miniature art is in shows or venues with larger work, it almost always gets noticed. Miniatures are more common than most people realize, but they are unique enough to warrant a second look.

– Personally, I believe that painting in miniature has improved the way I paint larger. I paint from 2 inches to 2 feet tall. Even in my larger works, I use a magnifier when I paint the center of interest in those pieces. Sharper focal points help strengthen compositions.

VacationIngredientsUFHere are some misconceptions people often have about miniature art:

– True miniatures are small depictions of larger, decorative art. But they are not painted to match the couch or room decor. In fact, collectors rarely buy miniatures because they match the bathroom towels. They purchase work this size because they feel an emotional connection to the art.

– The purpose of miniatures is not to fit as much detail as possible into a small space. We don’t paint on rice or pencil tips. We are more interested in composing art that fits into the focal field of vision of the viewer. In other words, when you look at a large painting, you can only focus on a small part of the painting at one time. It turns out, this focal field of vision is about the size of a miniature fine art painting.

– Composition is different in miniature art than it is in larger art. Miniatures need to be more detailed, because the viewer sees the whole painting at once, until they look closer. Larger work requires places in the composition for your eye to rest, and you typically see the most detail at the center of interest in the painting. For miniatures, you go from detailed to extremely detailed as you move toward the center of interest.

– We don’t all paint with small brushes. While I don’t use half inch brushes much in miniature, it’s more important for me to have pointy brushes that hold enough paint to allow a steady flow.¬† A quarter inch round brush with a resilient pointed tip works much better than a script brush with three hairs in it.

– Miniature paintings actually take longer to paint than their larger counterparts. You have the same number of brush strokes as a larger painting, which will typically be less detailed. Finessing detail in very small spaces is time consuming. Also, while most of us find lighted magnifiers necessary in our process, they do hinder the painting speed.

Click Debra Keirce to see more of her art.