I used to work big all the time.
When I was in college, I regularly did acrylic and collage pieces that were 4 feet by 4 feet. When I started doing process painting with tempera on paper, the paintings frequently grew to six feet in height! That's so big I had to stand on a chair to paint them.
But since I started working in encaustic in 2006, I've been working smaller. Encaustic is expensive, and there are technical considerations to working large that aren't as prevalent in other media. For example, it's generally easier to work an encaustic painting while it's flat rather than propped on an easel. I'm effectively limited by the length of my arms and the size of my table.
But in January, I exhibited a piece that once again hit the four foot mark - it's made up of four panels, and is four feet wide.
Because I was working on it modularly - generally one or two panels at a time - I was able to move the panels around as I painted. So, the painting can be hung different configurations.
A few months ago, I re-configured my studio so that it would be easier to paint on large panels. Now, my palettes (er, griddles) sit to my right and the paintings sit on a six foot "island." It's all at counter-height, so that I can stand and walk around the pieces, working on them from multiple angles.
The diptych that's on the table in the above photo is composed of two square panels, each of which measures two feet by two feet. The piece went through multiple evolutions!
At first, I wasn't even sure the two panels were related, one just areas of color, the other incorporating image transfers of cactus.
But then I connected them.
And then it takes a huge, undocumented leap! It got largely painted over, octopus tentacles were added and removed, pollen was added, and then . . . I decided to focus on the pollen. Interestingly, even though the panels were flipped, you can see that the underpinnings of the composition remained . . .
And here's the final piece - installed at In Bocca Al Lupo Fine Art as part of their "Pollen Count" show, up through the end of June, 2014.
Working on these bigger pieces lets me be looser, more experimental.